Saturday, 30 March 2013

Port Jackson Campground

Port Jackson campground runs the length of a beautiful crescent shaped golden sand ocean beach which is tucked into relatively sheltered bay located between Kaiiti Point & Cape Colville. And we have what we’ve decided is the best site of all… long as the wind doesn’t get up.  We are sitting high up on the sand dunes on the front row, the van sited horizontally to the sea view with a salty scrub wind break on one side & a beach entrance on the other. Port Jackson is a back-to-basics campground & the “long-drop” toilets & cold showers are just a short walk away should we want to use them and the water tap is just across the track from us.
It was more by good planning on our part than by chance that we have a great spot. While a lot of people living life on the road don’t have itineraries & I’m sure we won’t have much of one either once we get the hang of it, I decided that this five weeks around the Coromandel, while mostly flexible, had to be planned a little more because smack bang in the middle of it was the long holiday weekend of Easter. Easter signals the end of the summer in New Zealand (and what a summer it’s been!) & the last chance for Kiwis to visit their favourite seaside holiday haunts & going by the number of campers that have invaded this camp ground this is a very popular haunt!

I’d booked a site at Port Jackson over the internet before we left home & also spoke on the phone to the camp manager Jenny, to ask her about access for a fifth wheeler. When we did the day trip to check the road out we called in at the camp & spoke to Jenny & Len, her husband, they were very encouraging about the road and after we’d made our mind up that we were coming they sent us down the camp ground to choose a site.

There were very few people about and with three sections to the camp we had a lot of choice. We found a couple of great sites on the front row in the middle section, Barrier Camp. Jenny earmarked  them for us although one had been taken by the time we arrived. The other was our first choice so we weren’t worried. The site was usually booked along with 3 or 4 others around it by a group of families that come to Port Jackson every holiday and have been doing so for the last 15 years or so. But as they hadn’t confirmed & we’d planned to get here two days before the Easter rush it was ours to occupy. The families did arrive in the end; they are behind & beside us & have made us very welcome even though we have their prime site!

Here they are discussing the day's catch
We had a quiet couple of days (& the best weather) before the masses & their boats started arriving on Thursday night & all day Friday. A dust cloud erupted every time another vehicle pulled in or roared past outside heading to Fletchers Bay at the end of the road. A wide variety of colourful tents began popping up all over the site along with quite a number of caravans & campervans. Most of these people have done it before & have been doing it for years, it’s a family tradition. They have come with their tinnies  & inflatables, quad bikes, push bikes, kayaks, diving gear, fishing gear, BBQs & tables, solar panels, communal food tents, shower tents & toilet tents, awnings hung off the front, the rear & the side of anything stable, & even a hand wringer mounted on the trailer for the washing!

And let’s not forget the most essential item of all, the large chilly bins full of ice & beer. It would seem a fisherman is not a fisherman unless he has his shirt off and a beer in his hand. Some even bring the kitchen sink. Except it’s not for the kitchen it’s for the fish, they stand around the old formica bench with a beer in hand while they analyse & discuss what went wrong or right with their latest fishing trip, who caught what & what got away, while filleting their catch.

And then there are the kids, lots of children racing around on their bikes, making new friends & renewing old friendships, digging in the sand, swimming in the waves & enjoying just being kids. What a fabulous time they're having and the making of some great memories; no playstations, computers or mobiles out here, just good clean fun enjoying life & our wonderful outdoor environment. Families enjoying a slice of the Kiwi dream.

It would seem nothing much has changed since I was a kid when our family holidays were spent camping at Te Awanga & Clifton in Hawkes Bay & at Mahia & Mahanga in Northern Hawkes Bay. Iconic Kiwi summers live on.

More photos here of Port Jackson


  1. Really enjoyed your commentary and images Shellie!! Reminds me of happy camping times at various palce in our beautiful country :-)

    1. Thanks Rose, you're so right, this is quintessential NZ.


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