Back in late April and early May, Sarah and I managed to escape Auckland for a couple of days. At the time we were waiting for me to be accepted into a clinical trial at Auckland hospital. So it was the perfect chance to get away before I was again spending long days being treated. I wrote about the first part of our trip here, this is the remaining half of the trip were things took a rather unexpected turn at the end.
After having crossed the hilly range from the Coromandel we decided to turn left towards Whangapoua. You can Freedom camp here in a couple of spaces just outside the local dairy. Of course the spaces are only the size of a small car so if we parked there we would take both spaces. Despite this, I doubt there are to many days when the spots are empty like in the google photo.
Even though we weren’t staying it would have been rude not to take a wander along the beach. As you can see from the photos. It was an absolutely beautiful day and even though we were now into May there were people in for a swim. For Sarah, there are memories of this beach from her teen-age years and we tried to find the house where she had stayed. She was pretty sure that the one pictured above is the one but it was hard to be sure all these years later.
From Whangapoua it wasn’t too far to our intended destination, Simpsons Beach (#2024). Although I have stayed here previously, Sarah hasn’t had the pleasure. As you can see we found a good spot with views out over the water. The land here slopes gently towards the sea so it was good to have the chocks on board to help level the van. It’s such a great spot which at the time was only $10 per night per van. It’s currently closed due to the Covid lockdown. I understand that when it re-opens after the lockdown that the price will rise to $10 per adult and $5 per child per night but still great value. It breaks my heart to hear there are people who have advantage of the fact that you physically had to go and pay. As Mrs. Simpson is too old to wander the camp a number of people have been staying and then would leave without paying. They are probably the same people who will complain the loudest when these sort of sites close to motorhomers. I have also read that the camp has now actually closed permanently, which will be a major loss to the motorhome community if correct. I guess once the Covid lockdowns are over we will find out one way or the other.
Last time I was here I didn’t stroll the length of the beach, so I didn’t get to see the Maori Pa and associated structures located at the far end of the beach. It’s clearly marked as private land so we didn’t intrude but I would love to have been able to get closer and have a good look. To me the work of a very talented artist. On the hillside which is probably no more than just a dot in the photo are a couple of structures that give a sense of what might have been there when this was a Maori Pa. It’s definitely worth the walk down the beach to investigate.
We ended up staying a couple of nights it was just so restful. We probably would have stayed even longer but we knew that the hospital could be calling me at some point and we really wanted to visit some of the other amazing places down the coast.
One of the few NZMCA Parks we haven’t stayed is the one at Whitianga and since that’s just down the road from Simpsons beach it was an obvious port of call. Although the views of the waterways are quite attractive the noise from the traffic on SH25 that runs past the camp was a constant drone while we wandered the camp. Consequently it remains one of the few Parks where we haven’t stayed.
We decided instead that we would move on to one of the two freedom camping areas in Pauanui. There had been positive posts about the two areas on various Facebook pages with us choosing the one opposite Tairua Head (Royal Billy Point Reserve #2134). A great spot as you can see from the photo except that the ground is not very level and the spots aren’t really suited to a camper of our length. Still other vans could access the spot next to us and we decided we would stay.
The weather had been so kind to us over the previous few days and so it was this day as well. With beautiful white sand on one side and million dollar homes on the other we decided to walk the foreshore and see where it took us. You would think, flat easy walk who could have a problem with that. And so did I not realising just how much all the recent chemotherapy had taken out of me. I am sure Sarah must have been a little frustrated with me holding her back from our normal pace. Thankfully plenty of the locals have donated benches dotted along the walkway allowing a rest when needed.
We walked all the way to the other freedom camping area (South End Reserve #2142) to discover a really nice grassed area. Probably big enough to take four or five motorhomes depending on their size. The area is really flat and appeared to have quite a firm surface, maybe there is lots of sand under the grass. Although we decided against moving during the walk back we realised that next time we came we would probably try and stay there. I don’t know how safe the swimming is here but from this camping area it’s only maybe twenty metres to the beach.
Its not hard to see why Pauanui is full of multi million dollar homes when you have views like this. It’s also not hard to imagine that there is a certain amount of resentment from the locals around having freedom camping in their area. But then New Zealand is meant to be an egalitarian country so maybe its a good thing. Whatever its certainly a place I feel we will return especially when a poorly timed phone call meant we never even got to spend the night there.
We had returned to the motorhome just after 4pm and since our little oven seems to take forever to cook anything we were just planning a roast pork dinner. When my phone rang. “Hello, this is xxxxx from Auckland Hospital. Just confirming that you have been accepted into the clinical trial. However things are a bit chaotic here at the moment and I was meant to call a few days ago. We need you here, in the hospital, to start the trial at 8.30am tomorrow morning.”
You can imagine my response. Anyway the long and the short of it, was that If I didn’t turn up there the next day they would need to delay the start of treatment by four weeks. This would also mean that I would also need to repeat some of the pre-admission tests I had already done as the results are time limited. So instead of cooking anything we packed everything up and drove back to Auckland. To add insult to injury the first day of treatment was on Sarah’s birthday so instead of a nice day away together at a beautiful beach. I was in hospital and she was alone at home, for most of the day at least. It was also five years to the day (also on her birthday) that I was first diagnosed. Two really good birthday presents. (If you want to read about my battle with Lymphoma click here.)
That was in May and we haven’t managed to use the motorhome since. Once I started feeling better Auckland went into lockdown and we have been there ever since. We are looking forward to this Friday when Auckland enters the traffic light system and the Regional Parks re-open, hopefully. Then roll on December 15th when the Auckland borders re-open, I am sure they will be lined up at the starting gates at midnight🤣🤣🤣.
To view the places we have visited click here to see them on Google maps. You can then click the link to read the blog about that area.