After leaving the Horahora Domain it was time to find a new destination without having to travel too far. This trip was about relaxation not seeing how far we could drive. Also with the price of diesel climbing through the roof who wants to have to keep filling their tank. We have had a number of people mention the Whakamaru Reserve as a great spot to stay, and not too far to drive from where we were, so it was time to find out for ourselves.
Like a lot of people I took a look at the travel app before we left to get a rough idea of where we where headed. But rather than hand it over to the chief navigator I chose to “follow my instinct”. Turning right down completely the wrong road in Tokoroa. It wasn’t long before I had to admit to myself that I had got it wrong. Turning the app back on we got back on track and then promptly turned it off again. The signage showing the turn into for the Reserve is missing coming from Tokoroa side, so we sailed past the entrance. Realising our mistake as we noticed the motorhomes and caravans parked along the lakeside. Thankfully it wasn’t too far to drive before we could turn around and head back. I guess there are a couple of lessons in there for me that I will probably ignore.
One of the first people we noticed when we arrived was Bill McMurray and his dog Abby. In my previous blog I talked about running into people that we have met through motorhoming and so it was again here. We first met Bill and Abby at Bland Bay in Northland back in 2019 and have run into them a couple of times since. Bill who lives full time on the road travels in his very distinctive motorhome, resplendent with a large rainbow on both sides. A reflection of his religious beliefs. It was great to see him and catch up again. When we first met Bill he could only walk with crutches after significant hip issues now after years of being mucked around by the health system it was great to see him walking again after a double hip replacement.
This reserve is huge, there must be at least 700 metres of waterfront available for all sorts of freedom camping including tents. Although some of the available land is not very level and there are areas where access to the water is obstructed by plants and lake weeds. The two most popular areas are at either end of the Reserve and we chose the one at the far end from the entrance. Apparently known as the Point. We must have timed our arrival perfectly with the fantastic spot, shown above, available. It was just a few steps from the lake. Actually the above photo is from Monday morning, just before we left and after everyone else around us had, but still shows our great parking spot.
We hadn’t long parked up the van before we both felt like stretching our legs with a bit of walk. We decided that we would walk the cycle trail (Part of section 5) to the point where we had performed the U turn in the motorhome. Neither of us were quite sure how far that was but felt it would be a good walk before the path was invaded with cyclists over the weekend. The path follows the river so you would think it would be nice and flat. But, actually that’s not the case with a few places where some small hills are involved. Nothing like some of the walks that we have done in the past, but, the trail is quite narrow and if a bike came flying down the hill there aren’t many places to hide.
We figured out that the blue markers on the trail are spaced at 500 metre intervals so if that’s correct the walk there and back was around six kilometres. Almost the whole of the trail was in the shade of the trees which would be really good on a hot day but they did obstruct the lake views for most of the walk.
I mentioned earlier that you could stay here in tents as well as caravans and motorhomes. We had a large family group turn up to camp alongside us. While the parents slept in caravans the kids all spent the night in tents. We spent a bit of time talking with them and it turns out that they were dairy farmers that only lived 15 minutes drive away. They came to this place regularly even though their parents owned a section on the water across the river. They liked it here because you can camp right on the water and I can tell you the kids seemed to be either in, on or under the water for the two days they were there. It reminded Sarah and I of when we used to take our kids away when they were younger and they just lived at the beach.
The activity on the water never seemed to stop. With the Water Ski Club based on the other side of the lake (the brown building in the photo) boats seemed to constantly being launched. With 23 kilometres of flat water up to the next dam at Atiamuri I guess there is plenty of space for everyone. And enough space for some to fully open their throttles and see how fast they could go, or so it seemed. You can also freedom camp at the Water Ski Club and we could see a few motorhomes parked up there.
One of my favourite times of the day is when the sky starts glowing behind the motorhome. It makes you realise what a fabulous country we live in.
The following morning there was mist over the lake. It was so quiet during the night that I slept better than I usually so and probably missed the best shots while I was still pushing up the Z’s.
Once the sun had properly risen and breakfast had been consumed it was time to stretch our legs in the other direction. It’s about a three kilometre walk from the campsite to the Whakamaru Dam. Once we had crossed over the dam we wandered down to have a closer look from the bottom. I don’t know if it’s fully automated these days but there wasn’t a car or worker anywhere to be seen. I know this is just a small dam, but I do find them impressive especially standing at the bottom looking up.
The Reserve is a great place to bring your pets as there are no restrictions here. Although I cannot say that Fat Cat (our travelling companion) was impressed with all the dogs there. Every time Sarah tried to take her outside, she immediately headed back into the van.
Things seem to be progressing well with my book. After self publishing it and launching it on Amazon a month ago it is selling reasonably well, although I doubt I will ever get rich from the royalties. If you would like to check it out click on the link to Amazon.com.au and have a look for yourself.
I know now that I have missed out on my bid to join the board of the NZMCA and would like to thank all those who voted for me. Your support was much appreciated. I congratulate both Brian and Marilyn on their election to the board and know that they will do an outstanding job. I am undecided at this point if I will stand again next year.
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.