Ohawe is a small settlement on the South Taranaki coast, just 8km west of Hawera, and was the perfect, peaceful place for us to see out the year with a coastal sunset and great views of the rugged and stunning coastline.
Ohawe is one of New Zealand’s earliest settled places. The first people hunted moa and other birds here about 1300. It was later founded as a military settlement with two redoubts built, one either side of the river mouth. Many of the British and colonial troops who died in later battles are buried in Ohawe Military Cemetery.
Ohawe Beach is very popular with locals and visitors for its rock pools, swimming, surfing and fishing. However, the cliffs that run along the scenic beach are known to be very unstable with frequent rock slides and collapses so caution is needed at all times.
We enjoyed a peaceful and relaxing walk on the black sands at low tide. The shallow waters around the numerous rock pools were clear and warm – providing great areas for paddling and watching the numerous hermit crabs and other small sea creatures.
We had parked up for the evening at the local campsite. Ohawe Beach Camp is administered by the Rangatapu Pa Trustees with all income reinvested into maintaining the campsite and Rangatapu Pa. The site charges a very reasonable small fee per person to cover powered and non-powered sites and use of the facilities which while basic and ‘no frills’ were perfectly functional and clean and included toilets, showers, laundry and a camp kitchen with dining area and small lounge.
It’s a classic kiwi campground from days of old. And we loved it! No playgrounds or jumping pillows. No shop. No cellphone or internet signal. Just a pleasant grassed area on a slight slope with views out to sea and plenty of space for a game of cricket, frisbee or whatever non-digital game takes your fancy!
It was nice to have a range of fellow campers around us, from families in caravans and tents to other couples in campervans and some groups of friends who camped up together so they could have a merry old time bringing in the New Year together!
And when the sun started to set, a number of campers migrated from the site on the short stroll to the nearby clifftop vantage point to watch the sunset. We ambled over with our drinks in hand to farewell the last day of the year. And what a year 2020 was! After such times of angst, worry and uncertainty it was wonderfully calming to just stand and watch the final sunset of the year with others nearby raising a celebratory glass, or enjoying an evening picnic in the last glows of the day.
It was a perfectly peaceful
Midnight saw us tucked up in our bed watching the full moon light up the bay, listening to revellers in the village cheer in the New Year and then a few fireworks from the beach – feeling full of gratitude for this pretty and peaceful New Year’s Eve in this quiet scenic spot…. and…. having our lovely campervan to be able to come away to places like this!
We both had a few weeks off work over the Christmas break (I can hear those in the USA gasping now!) so decided that was the best time to head off for our first proper trip in the van.
Obviously here in New Zealand, Christmas falls in our summertime. This has been quite a thing to get used to for us, coming from England which was mostly just cold and grey in December. There weren’t many classic movie-scene snowy Christmas Days in my memories – mostly just cold and grey!
Here in NZ they tend to have a large (commercial) build-up to Christmas – as in most countries – but we find they do Christmas for just a day or two and then BAM… it’s summer holiday time!
A lot of local businesses close for the holidays. Not just for the statutory holidays or a few days either side, but close for the summer holidays. A couple of weeks, maybe more. We were amazed in our first few years here that the normally busy town we lived near simply emptied during January. Two, maybe three, days after Christmas and the streets were empty. Supermarkets were the busiest places and you could still park almost by the front door and bump into nobody whilst there! And if you needed any work done; a mechanic for your car, a sparky to wire in a new electrical thing, or any such kind of task – then you’re pretty much out of luck – unless you have a mate, who has a mate, who knows someone that has NOT gone away on holiday and can *maybe* get to you in a week or two.
Cars, trailers, boats, campervans and any other types of wheeled vehicle (this is New Zealand – you see things here you literally couldn’t imagine!) get loaded up for the big summer roadie. Tents and beach games are loaded into cars along with the average 2.4 children and a hairy dog or two. Surfboards and/or bikes are strapped to roof racks – trailers are hitched up, and the compulsory roadtrip snacks are put up the front to be handed out when the ‘are we there yet’ moans get loud or frequent.
I realise this scene could be repeated anywere around the world and you’re thinking this is nothing new. And it’s not. It’s just it still surprises me that it’s full on focus for Christmas for a month, or even more, and then as soon as we get Boxing Day over it appears that a large majority of the country whips the decorations down and disappears to the beach.. or the lake… or wherever their holiday spot is that year. And I love it!
And while I don’t really want to blog about that horrible C word I have to recognise that we are very VERY lucky here in NZ that we can currently freely travel and do all those fabulous summer holiday things that we want to do. All except get on a plane and fly to have a holiday somewhere else. But why would we want to when we have all of this amazing country to explore.
A few days after Christmas we disappeared on our summer holiday – in the campervan! Actually four days after Christmas in our household – and we didn’t rip the festive decorations down before we left as some of the family stayed at home and would have been quite upset by that move!
This was to be our first proper holiday in the van. Up to now The Hubbie and I had only managed to get one night away in it. So it was quite exciting to load it up and do a mini ‘moving-in’ session, finding out what would fit into all the cupboards and little storage spots etc. I was amazed by how much it actually did take. I filled two small lockers with my personal clothes (packing for all seasons as anyone sensible should always do in New Zealand!) and I didn’t get through half of them in the ten nights we were away!
The fridge also took more than I expected it to, along with the kitchen/pantry drawers, and then we still had a really large storage area underneath the rear seats – that we access via the rear doors – where we could throw outdoor seats, tables, bike helmets, BBQ etc.
Overall I was very impressed with how much stuff it held but at the same time we’re trying not to clutter it up with too many things that we’ll leave to mount up in there. We’d rather stick to doing a small pack-in every time we want to go away, just leaving absolute basics to live in there all the time.
Once loaded up, included our two bikes on the bike rack, we filled up the fresh water tank and set off.
Our camper has a pretty large solar panel and house battery set up (please don’t ask me what size in term of watts or whatever technical lingo is appropriate – I have no idea!) which means we don’t need to stay on a campsite with power to hook up to. Yay!
And one of the best things about campervanning in NZ is the huge number of motorhome-friendly towns, villages, businesses, pubs, tourist attractions etc. that have dedicated spaces for motorhome overnight parking.
Important to note here is that in the majority of cases, vans need to be fully self-contained to be able to stay in a lot of these ‘freedom camping’ spots. This is all done via the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association – the NZMCA. For a vehicle to be officially approved as self-contained it is physically checked to ensure it complies with the Association’s requirements to meet the ‘ablutionary and sanitary needs of the occupants for a minimum of three days without requiring any external services or discharging waste’.
I won’t harp on too much now about self-contained vehicles. I’ve posted about Freedom Camping in NZ in the past, and even though it was way back in 2012 I don’t think much has changed since I wrote: The Good, the Bad and The Ugly about Freedom Camping
I’ll leave it there for today but here’s a taster of what’s to come soon; our ten-night break took us the following overnight camping spots and some amazing nearby adventures in each destination – all to be blogged about very soon!
- Tongaporutu / Three Sisters
- New Plymouth
- Ohawe Beach, South Taranaki
- Whanganui – site 1
- Whanganui – site 2
- Kapiti Coast
- Putangirua / Cape Palliser
Here we are – back in the land of blogging again, who’d have thought it.
But here we are in January 2021 (we’ll just gloss over 2020 for now – eek!) and the blog is back up and running because… we have bought a new campervan 🙂
This beautiful thing came into our lives last October….
We (the royal we that is The Hubbie and myself) decided it was about time to get back into the campervan lifestyle again – especially seeing as we currently CAN travel around New Zealand and currently CANNOT travel to…. anywhere else!
The bus we used to own was obviously a reasonably large vehicle so I wanted something a little more compact (this van actually isn’t *that* much shorter – but definitely feels smaller), I was keen to find something with a rear lounge and back doors/windows, and something newer with more up to date facilities (such as solar panels, and air con in the cab), plus a few other preferences and upgrades from the bus.
We found a preloved 2/3 berth (more on that later) VW Crafter – all officially self-contained (a big requirement here in New Zealand so you can freedom camp or park at low cost in many amazing locations) with a very handy two-bike rack on the back door, a large solar panel, two house batteries, and just enough of everything else we were looking for to make us say, “We’ll take it”.
The Hubbie and I both currently have fairly busy work lives so during the first three months of ownership we only managed a grand total of ONE night away together! I did get to use it on another occasion with the teenage daughter – which was a great opportunity to see if I could drive and manage it by myself… and I can! So if our promise to get away together at least once a month doesn’t happen – I can just disappear for some campervan ‘me’ time if I need to!
However our intentions are good and solid – we bought the van to use it and both intend to make that happen as regularly as possible. In fact, we’ve only just returned from a nice 10-day break over the New Year which I’ll be blogging about soon.
So that’s it… we’re back in the world of campervanning again and how could I not turn back to my trusty Kiwi Blog Bus blog to share some of our tales, photos and adventures from time on the road. New Zealand has a seemingly endless supply of amazing destinations to visit and our intention is to discover them! The blog will bring you more details on campervan life too, and I’m sure include some pics and tales of these two pests….
See you again very soon – and do write and let me know if you have any questions, comments or ideas about what you’d like to see on the Kiwi Blog Bus part II.
So SO many apologies are owed to my long time committed readers of this blog.
I abandoned you.
The belated news is that just over a year ago we actually sold the Kiwi Blog Bus 😦
We were all sad to see it go after having many happy holiday around New Zealand and enjoyed the wonderful convenience of travelling in a bus / campervan.
However – we were still travelling, but in another direction.
We moved to a lifestyle block.
We are the very proud owners of a tiny two bedroom cottage on an acre and a bit of prime NZ land.
Slowly but surely, aided by funds from the sale of the Blog Bus, we are doing up our do-er upper with the addition of some KiwiAnnison favourites: a huge veggie garden, a tractor shed (full of tractors!), a paddock for the miniature horse, a field full of Christmas trees and chooks… etc….
And for Kiwi Blog Bus fans – I may still dip in here and write up a few travel stories from the good old bus days, or just general NZ travel tales I think you may just be interested in.
I won’t finish with a goodbye as hopefully this is the recommencement of something that lots of you will stick by my side on.
See you soon
Since we came to live in New Zealand, and probably even before, I heard so much about the Bay of Islands that it obviously had to go onto our Must-See list (and my personal bucket list).
So on our first trip ever up to Northland and the Far North (is that the opposite of the Deep South?!) I was eagerly anticipating our arrival in the Bay of Islands.
It did not disappoint.
On our approach to the Bay of Islands I noted that we were to drive near Kawakawa.
As this was the infamous home of the Hundertwasser Toilets, I duly prodded the driver and requested (for his benefit of course) that we take a driving break in the locality of this tourist attraction.
I wish I hadn’t bothered. Read More…
Our summer trip was underway.
We had packed up the Kiwi Blog Bus with leftover Christmas goodies and collected our Trade Me buy en route (a double kayak – that’s actually a 2 person plus room for a little one).
And we arrived at our first night’s stopover – Snells Beach just past Warkworth (free camping for self-contained campervans). Read More…
Just sharing my view from bed this morning…..
I’ve been out of phone signal lately ( yesterday we went up Cape Reinga at the Northern point of NZ) so I’ll have to do full blog posts when I get home.
Last night the Kiwi Blog Bus freedom camped at Horeke, Hokianga Harbour.
We are next to the Horeke Tavern which has been serving beer since 1826 ( that’s like real old in New Zealand terms!) and I recommend you all should visit this utterly charming place.
I’ve had such a peaceful night with just birds waking me this morning to a stunning view.
I have lots more pics to download when we get home but I’ll leave you with these:
Next on our plans…. We’re actually heading back to the Bay of Islands.
We haven’t been over to Russell yet but an invitation was kindly extended to us from Angela & Don of Russell – Orongo Bay Holiday Park to come and stay there.
We met them at the motorhome show in Hamilton last year and it’s taken us this long to get up here!
The 14 acre holiday park sounds amazing and i’m looking forward to checking out all the facilities. I’m so pleased we can go with our canine friends on board too!
I’m excited to get over there (on the ferry) and explore historic Russell and its beautiful surroundings.
So we’ve skipped to night 4 at Paihia, Bay of Islands.
(Night 3 was beachside at Pataua, Whangarei Heads, when a blissful day playing in the water was followed by a noisy rain squall rudely interrupting our sleep at 5am).
The day got off to a wet start and we travelled up to The Bay of Islands with low cloud, no views and my disappointment looming.
However Read More…