Seda: Here I am, in Kina beach reserve camping (5nzd per head basic campsite) sipping my coffee and thinking about the meaning of the word “basic” which is used quite literally here.
I think the whole idea of camping is nothing more then people’s desire to return to nature. Why else do so many of us leave our nice bathrooms with flushing toilets in them and come here to use a hole in the ground.
This campervan was in my view as these thoughts were going through mind. They made a little shelter to sit under just like a medieval man would do to protect his family from weather conditions. They left their fancy kitchen with possibly a dishwasher at home and came here to do the dishes instead with a trickle of the water from their plastic container tap.
I don’t know if we are all mad or simply want what we don’t have. Because I’m sure a medieval family would have loved our comforts but for some reason we want to celebrate our free time by leaving them all behind!
On Sunday morning we quickly got away from the $5 place to check out the free one nearby. To our surprise, we’ve found it quite pleasant. It was simply a big public car park in the centre of town with quite decent public toilets adjacent. I noticed a fellow traveller with all the familiar Dreamsleeper gear so I got chatting to her and she highly recommended the place. Our only worry was the requirement to leave the carpark by 7am, but even that worked out fine for our plans in the end.
First of all we headed to see The Split Apple Rock. It’s a nice short walk to this most photographed rock in New Zealand. Me and the other half of my apple, really enjoyed this interesting landmark.
Our first night at the free campsite was brilliant. I had read that freedom campers were not very popular with locals and pushed away from cities in NZ. The reality is quite different. The locals actually embrace the travellers and DOC has some free camping grounds in good locations and quite often in town centres. The reason obviously is the proximity to public toilets which works out brilliantly. If you think about it, the local businesses immensely benefit from the flocks of travellers coming here to see their area, all the local government has to do is allocate them a car park that would have been empty during the night anyway and provide them public toilet access. Everyone is happy!
Andy: We really wanted to do some sea kayaking whilst we were in the Abel Tasman National Park as we’d heard it has some amazing coastlines. We asked at the tourist information office that was on the edge of our new car park campsite and they recommended a company to us. With it all booked up, we headed up there bright and early the next morning. Well, I say bright and early but it was more like overcast and early really!
Their set up of launching the aqua taxis was quite a strange one. They load everyone into the boat at the main office, attach it to a tractor and drive off down the road onto the beach. They then drive down the beach to the receding tidal water, turn, and reverse the whole lot into the sea until the tractor is practically underwater! We wondered what was going on at first, but thought they must know what they’re doing right?!
It was a full day of kayaking through a marine reserve allowing us to observe sea lions on an island that locals call “seal island“, but is actually called Adele Island. They are actually sea lions rather than seals too, so not much confusion there then?!
Our guide was very knowledgeable about the local area having grown up there, and been kayaking around this amazing coastline all his life. He told us many stories as we paddled about Maori traditions, and history of the National Park. Every few minutes he would stop and spin around to face us all and tell us something new. We stopped on a lovely beach for a lunch break where there was a small waterfall a few minutes walk away. The water was crystal clear, and very very cold.
Another really cool thing our guide did was later in the afternoon when maybe our energy levels were dwindling a little, was to paddle up to each kayak individually and offer us an energy ball! They were little chocolate and date sweets which really hit the spot. As we tried to keep ourselves stationary, he would skilfully paddle to each couple, get his sealed contained of energy balls, open it, offer some, close it again, put it away and kayak to next couple only to do it all again. Much fun!
A funny thing that happened on our way to the kayak starting point was that Seda all of a sudden blurted out that she’d forgotten the insect repellent, and had “left it at home“. Now, considering we were driving to the kayak companies office at the time in our home, she soon realised what she’d said!
Something that we’d read about on another blog, and seen posters for was Anatoki Salmon Fishing and Cafe. Again, it was rather a miserable day completely overcast and intermittent light rain. In fact, the sort of day I would never normally go fishing if I were back in the UK!
However, we were there, and I persevered for an hour or so and eventually caught this 1kg beauty. Ok ok, so a 1kg is probably the smallest fish in the lake, but it was more than enough for us two.
Seda: What was I saying about our desire to return to nature?!
Andy: The awesome thing with this place is that whatever you catch, they smoke it there and you eat it for lunch. In fact, it was probably about 15 minutes after landing this fish that it was on our plates covered in garlic and herb loveliness! Seda’s only question after lunch was, “What are you catching us for dinner?!”
Seda: As the rain finally eased off a bit, we went to see Te Waikoropupu Springs or locally known as Pupu Springs. We were not even sure if we wanted to go but as it was a really short walk from the car park we thought, we’d give it a go. I mean NZ officially describes it as “the largest freshwater springs in New Zealand, the largest cold water springs in the Southern Hemisphere and contain some of the clearest water ever measured”, but is there a reason to get so excited about clear water? Well, turns out there is. We both had to pick up our chins off the floor, since this place is simply amazing!
You have to follow main roads in NZ which are not many so its not uncommon to backtrack your steps. Still, because it’s a small country, it’s not a big problem. So we came back to the same free camp ground and had a cup of awesome wine (yes “cup of” because we have no wine glasses, come on it’s just a sleeper car!)
This car park is quite a sight in the early mornings as all the campers are trying to wake up and leave around 7am. Some only open their eyes to drive down the road but many are making their way across the car park for a morning wash which resembles a zombie scene. Loads of funny haired yawning pyjamas!
We were on our way to the West Coast of the country, aiming to get to Westport by lunch time. There is a well advertised seal colony living in Tauranga Bay which takes you through there by another well maintained scenic walking path. We were refreshed by the strong sea breeze and I really enjoyed watching the multiple sets of waves turning the sea almost white.
Well, once again the seal colony turned out to be a sea lion colony. They seem to have a serious confusion here about this. My understanding is that a sea lion has large flippers and their movements are considered more of a walk whereas seals have small flippers and wriggle on their bellies. In any case, they were very cute whilst playing in their little pool or simply lying there chilling.
It was time for us to get a decent campsite stay so we booked into one and enjoyed some of the luxuries on offer. They had a very large kitchen and loads of benches to sit and enjoy eating your dinner alfresco style. As we did so, we chatted to a couple from Leicester.
Andy: In the same week, we spoke to a guy who works in Coventry with his car across from us on a free campsite and more recently we met a couple from Leicester. The guy was working at JLR’s Gaydon site too, where Seda worked! There was also a couple from Oxford who when I asked exactly where they told me I’d never have heard of it. I said try me, and knew it well as I drive trains through there regularly. Small world indeed.
This campsite was close to, so we took a walk to the Pancake Rocks and Blow Holes. It’s an amazing place which unfortunately is being eroded away by the sea constantly. According to the information there no-one really knows how they were created but limestone being very easily shaped, and the sea crashing into the rocks every few seconds must have something to do with it!
There was also a small cave on the way back to the campsite where there was reports of glow worms but we couldn’t see any. Hopefully we will get another chance to see some another time…