Free and fabulous in Tairua
There is a small car park overlooking Tairua harbour where, in an attempt to manage freedom camping, the local council have allocated two free overnight spaces for self-contained campervans.
Earlier this week we were lucky enough to get one of these much prized parking spots for the night.
We saw a few other motorhomes draw up into the car park, the inhabitants hopped out to take some photos (the surrounding scenery is just gorgeous), they glanced over at the two occupied official spaces, shoulders drooped, protesting kids were ushered back inside and off they drove to find somewhere else to stay.
But be assured, we enjoyed every minute of our stay in Tairua.
A popular holiday destination on the east coast of the Coromandel peninsula, Tairua spreads around the harbour to the base of Mt. Paku (a twin-peaked volcanic cone) and is just a short ferry ride from Pauanui, a stones throw across the harbour mouth.
Our destination was on the road which links the mainland to the small Paku peninsula and while we faced the calm waters of the inland harbour and the estuary, behind us the waves of the Pacific crashed noisily onto a glorious sandy, and pretty deserted, beach.
The mountain towers over you at all times with houses perched on and around it quite precariously.
The properties appear to be a good mix of original unassuming kiwi baches (or a caravan and a shed) up to gleaming miami-style modernistic sculptures of houses.
We walked down to the harbour mouth and had some afternoon tea at The Old Mill Cafe (highly recommended).
A lovely old boat, the SS Ngoiro, is now sitting on land at Tairua harbour and signs indicate it was used as a wedding venue. The boat currently looks empty and unused and is alongside other closed buildings and another derelict boat.
This rather scruffy harbourside area currently adds an air of run-down-ness to the place. However, I believe that there’s a (controversial) marina development due to be built in this very spot. I know little about it but I hope they manage to bring a little extra life into the place without killing the calm and traditional air that exists around this peaceful community.
We strolled back to the Kiwi Blog Bus and enjoyed the calm evening vibes that settled over the inland harbour.
Another kayaker, with an obedient dog following constantly behind, paddled around in the shallow waters of the estuary.
Wading birds walked slowly through the water, looking for their supper.
A nine-year-old girl splashed her feet in the calm, and slightly warmed, shallow waters.
And the sun began to set over the Coromandel hills.
We left the next morning but I’m sure the campervan parking spot would not have been empty for long.