Getting historical in an Auckland Regional Park
After our stay in Thames we drove over the tremendously new Kopu bridge (with NO queuing in traffic) and set off around the East Coast Road to the other side of the Firth of Thames.
We drove up to Tapapakanga Regional Park, just south of Orere Point, where we found two wonderfully located
seaview/beachfront campsites …. for tents.
An on-site telephone put me straight through to a kind lady at Auckland Regional Parks who said that if we were self-contained (which means your campervan has its own facilities) we were allowed to stay on the car park and she’d send the ranger down to collect $10.
Enter…. The Ashby Homestead.
In 1899 James and Rebecca Ashby purchased 737 acres of land for 7 pounds & 6 pence per acre and 80 head of cattle. They settled on the land and in 1900 built the homestead beside the beach where they raised their 14 children.
An information board in the colourful cottage garden tells visitors that a post office and school were established in the front room of the four-bedroom house in 1913.
In 1916 the Ashbys built a tennis court and installed a telephone line. Electricity was supplied in 1948.
The house remained in family ownership until 1990 when Auckland Regional Council purchased the last block of land and officially opened the Tapapakanga Regional Park in 1995.
Pohutukawas hug the coastline and a freshwater stream winds through the land down to a beachside lagoon.
In the evening (after wonderful salmon and prawn kebabs on the BBQ) we walked along the beach and up to the hill-top Ashby family cemetery with its views over the Firth of Thames.
It was very quiet in the secluded car park that night and we sat outside to search the starry sky for shooting stars and passing distant satellites. The sounds of the sea a reassuring background noise.
We had to leave the next day to return home but I think we will be back. Maybe to try our kayaks on the sea, or perhaps to just walk through the homestead again and soak up some more Tapapakanga vibes.
Auckland Regional Parks operate many campgrounds in parks and I’m hoping that the ‘campervan in car park’ scheme will apply to other sites too. I will do further research but am already keen to visit Scott Homestead at Mahurangi Regional Park.