Friends in New Plymouth suggested I should have a look at Opunake but on the way from Hawera, I read about a small campsite at Kaupokonui Beach which is not far on the Opunake side of Manaia, about 4ks so I thought I’d give it a shot. The campsite itself was down in a valley next to a river entrance to the sea with huge sandhills opposite. It looked the business but before I went down the valley, I stopped at the top to see if there was any internet around.. There was, so off I went.
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I met Jim in the office who was very a happy friendly guy who said that if I stayed for three days, it would be $15 per night. I still had another week of unsupervised travel before Fiona came down so it sounded like a good plan 🙂
I parked up and almost immediately met my neighbours who were in their new Carado, which is made in the Hymer factory and is identical to the Dethleffs Sunlight. Dot and Ron were cruising in their new van and were originally from Wellington. They have just sold their house and looking at what to do next.
The campground is great as it sits on a plateau above the river entrance. The level below is a favourite spot for whitebaiters and there is a footbridge which makes the Sandhills opposite, easily accessible.
More of the playground, campground at the top level
From the bridge
The campground. Office in the background
The river mouth with people fishing
The sandhill opposite
I went for a couple of walks around and the first thing you notice is the quiet, the clean air and for the time I was here, it was non stop sunshine and no wind.
I also met three caravan/bus loads of people from Wanganui here for the weekend.
With the first Bledisloe test looming that night, he was having trouble with his sky card which I tested in our tv as well for him but I suspect it needs resetting by sky for not having had power for a few weeks.
I went to sleep ignoring the rugby but happened to wake up at midnight anyway and watched it then on Prime.. Great game.
For its money, it’s a nice camp in a great location and it’s not surprising it gets really busy in summer.
The first night had gone well at Clifton Beach and it was time to go and play. After walks down the road and along the beach, it was time to get ready for a lunch that we’d booked at Elephant Hill Vineyard which is just across the road.
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We were perfectly positioned to take advantage of our primo parking place at Clifton. There was half an hour to go before our pre booked check in time so that was well spent checking out some really nice wines.
The weather was prefect, the food beautiful, the wine fantastic, great company so what more good you ask for 🙂
It is also Motorhome friendly for those who want to park there for a couple of hours while you have lunch.
The combination of Clifton Beach parking and Elephant Hill Vineyard.. A perfect match for when you’re in Napier.
As you’re coming North on State Highway 1 is a new Cafe called the Woolshed. It’s about 200 metres south of Sanson on the left. It was built from the foundations and flooring of a huge house.
The building looks like it has been there forever but it is brand new.
Fiona and I were on route from Wanganui to Palmerston North so she could catch a flight back to Auckland so we diverted to try out this new cafe.
It has a massive carpark so it’s very easy to park even the biggest vehicles and their toads! While we were there, a caravanning couple popped in.
Open the sliding doors to the BBQ area
The Outside area
It’s full of character and you would put money on it being a do up rather than a new build and has plenty of sheep and wool paraphernalia scattered around the room. There is even a couple of model full sized sheep just inside the door and a full wool press in a corner.
Out the back there are sliding doors for full on BBQ sessions and a playhouse and other extras for the kids/grandkids. Nice coffee and although I forgot to get a piccy of it, Fiona and I went halves in a very nice and filling shepherds pie for under $10.
Looks out for it as you get close or drive through Sanson. About 200 metres south of Sanson on the left going north.
We were heading to Wanganui to catch up with our old neighbours Terry and Lisa but on the way, I had heard about a campground in Kapiti which had a shower and toilet shed for each Motorhome site. I had to check this out.
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It was a real treat having our own little self contained bathroom just outside the door. While we were in town, we would see if we could catch up with Fiona’s cousin Malcolm and his wife Michelle, and have them for tea.
We arrived at Kapiti Holiday Park around 4pm and were shown where to park in “Windsor Lane”. Each named avenue is surrounded by huge high hedges protecting everyone from any winds.
The hedges also mean you have to be mindful of the direction you park if you want TV reception. My very kind neighbour pointed this out to me when I backed in and he realised that I wouldn’t get a signal where I was, but if I turned Rafe around the other way, my dome would be further from the hedge and would get a clean signal. Good to have that local knowledge. Thanks neighbor! The little shed had its own shower, toilet and handbasin in with its own hot water cylinder. There was also a gully trap next to the shed on the outside for waste and a freshwater tap at the back along with a power point. Everything you could ever want and very convenient.
We could easily do a dash for the shower in the morning with a towel around us without anyone noticing ! With winter prices it was $40.00 for the night for us both.
Rafe in the zone
Inside the shed
The meal went well and it was great to see Malcolm and Michelle.
Just over the road was Paraparamu Beach so we were off for a walk and see the coast. Kapiti Island looks huge as it is just off the beach.
A lovely park and quite a novelty with the little cabins.
One of the trips I’ve always wanted to do while in Wellington was to drive from Lyall Bay all the way around the outside past Seatoun and Worser Bay. The buildings into the cliffs and the rustic charms of the way the houses are all set into the cliffs is amazing. It’s like a different world.
When you come out the other end towards Miramar, there is the old Air Force Base and workshops. These days they’re mostly occupied by Artists and a few tradespeople. The old Senior NCO’s mess is now used by a cafe called The Chocolate Fish BBQ cafe.
The building has a Historic classification which prevents them from poking holes in it for vents etc so they’ve carefully added a clip on lean to for the kitchen which seems to work quite well for them. The rest of the building is just as it was as a mess building with a few mods for convenience.
One of the staff was quite a talented artist and has painted all the seats and backs of the chairs with different images which really brightens the place.
The company vehicle
Fiona picking her lunch
Half of Fiona’s Fish Sammy
A picture on the wall of how it looked earlier on..
The food is sensational and very reasonably priced and is very sandwich based but they’re a good hearty size! .. Outside, the views of the city are fantastic, there are plenty of things for kids or grandchildren to play with and best of all, really easy Motorhome friendly parking.
The place oozes history and we found ourselves easily enjoying a couple of hours taking it all in.
The weather was about to go downhill dramatically and as there was a deal going on the Campermate app at Holdens Bay Holiday park for $14 a night, it seemed sensible to take up the offer.
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A couple of nights plugged in with the heater on to clear some posts, sounded like a good idea. There were hot pools there too.
Its a big park with lots of rental apartments and plenty of powered parks and being a cold winters day and about to get colder, it had more motorhomes there than I expected.
Holdens Bay is on the eastern side of Lake Rotorua just south of the airport. Its a little out of the way but apart from the odd plane, its a nice quiet spot with great facilities. You can also walk to the lake which is only 5 minutes away and there is a technology museum almost next door. With the deal and forecasted bad weather, a great spot to hunker down.
Nice Kitchen and toilets
The Pool but not pool weather
Looking into Rotorua
NZ is such a small place. I’d no sooner settled Rafe down when I heard a frantic tooting and looked around. There was some people that I’d met the night before in Taupo and put them onto Campermate.
A young Dutch graphic designer with his theatre nurse wife, Stephen and Angelique with their 3 year old son. A really nice couple who were into their third and last week of a NZ campervan tour. They had got the same deal I had and were staying one night before pushing on towards Auckland. I also bumped into them a few days later at Miranda Holiday park, one of my recommendations for their last night. We’ll hopefully catch up with them in Rotterdam when we get there sometime next year.
For those offshore, Campermate is a free cell phone app which shows where Campgrounds, dumpstations, free parking, petrol stations etc are on a map and use your location but also has deals. Well worth getting if you’re touring NZ.
Its such a neat place Rotorua with so much to do and has a calming atmosphere to it and of course all the Thermal stuff happening.
It always amused me by the foresight of the Rotorua team with their signs pointing out where not to park in the NZMCA Ngongotaha park, if you wanted a TV signal.
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This was due to the huge trees all down one side of the park. There was one tree really that was the culprit for the TV reception problems but I understand they were all a bit rotten so had to go for safety reasons after a limb fell.
Although I thought the trees looked great and I was a wee bit concerned when I heard they had gone, it does look fantastic.
The Dump station
From the back looking out to the lake
I also understand that the area down the front is about to get a makeover and be made ready for more parking.
Great work guys.. it’s one of the better parks around.
It’s always a great experience checking out St Faiths Church and Ohinemutu on the lakefront, when I’m in Rotorua.
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I can remember coming here when I was in short pants and it still looks as good now if not better.
It’s always quite serene and has an air about it which is nice. I think the thermal steam from the cracks in the road and everywhere probably helps this too.
There were quite a few people there too having a good look around so that’s great for the donation boxes there. A lovely peaceful spot and there’s a couple of overnight spots for motorhomers just around the corner by the boatramp.
I parked Rafe in the free Motorhome parking by the boat ramp on the lake front and went for a 5 minute walk up towards the shops with the camera.
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Walking up the road towards Tutanekai Street, I couldn’t help but notice the new restaurant and eating out area there. A whole block of covered walkway which is apparently partly retractable with Bars, Restaurants and Cafes all along the road on both sides.
It looks fantastic. Because it was only 10.30 odd in the morning nothing was open but I bet it’s a lively area in the evenings. Next time, I’ll come later in the day. It looks like a lot of fun.