Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Beach Hop South- Herbertville & the Pipi Bank


Not far from Porangahau and on the way to our next beach destination we pass an iconic NZ tourist attraction, a place that unless you've in the area, is a very long way from nowhere. At 85 characters, this is the longest place name in New Zealand (and some say the world but that is often disputed). It belongs to a small unassuming hill on private farmland and luckily there is a signpost and information panel letting you know you have arrived, otherwise you might just drive straight on past!

I had a couple of goes at pronouncing it and it wasn't actually too hard if I broke it down into syllables or known words- although I'm guessing I didn't break them down or pronounce them correctly, but still I gave it a go. The Maori name translates to "the place where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, who slid, climbed and swallowed mountains, known as 'landeater’, played his flute to his loved one."  Locals simply call it Taumata Hill.

I'd been waiting to visit our next destination since we started the beach hop south. I've never been to Herbertville but I feel like I know it very well. 

Life time family friends of Mum & Dad lived in Herbertville for over 20 years, they owned the hotel and the campground and also had (and still have) a few properties in the village. By all accounts I think the village should have been renamed Sunnexville because according to the current owners of the hotel, the Sunnex family were very instrumental in helping the settlement survive and thrive. 

We met Lorraine & Art Bloom, the current owners, when we stopped in for a coffee. The couple have turned the old hotel into a combined bar, restaurant, cafe & small general store. They also have accommodation available and I have the feeling that their establishment would be a hive of activity over the summer months. 

You might remember the courtesy car from the Patangata Hotel early on in our Beach Hop, well this is Herbertville's version. For real! Apparently as part of the conditions of their liquor license a courtesy car must be available. It all makes sense now, we've seen some rather random and unusual courtesy cars in our travels but I think this one takes the cake! 

Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself because before we visited the village we drove straight on through and out the other side to the beach, and then followed the gravel road down the coast a few kilometres until we reached Pipi Bank Station- what a cool name for a farm. For my overseas readers, pipi (pronounced pip-ee) is a shellfish that lives deep in the sand along many of NZ's beaches and which can be dug for at low tide. Cooked and eaten in pipi fritters! They are often packed together in dense patches, hence 'Pipi Bank'.

I had called ahead to the Station to ask permission to camp along the foreshore. Permission was granted as long as we didn't mind that the station's cows and calves were grazing the area and we didn't have a dog. I'm afraid no dogs are allowed at any time of the year.

We drove right to the end of the road checking out the numerous suitable camping areas and decided on one not far back up the road after turning around- it was reasonably level, close to the ocean, and had a minimal amount of fresh cow pats. It would seem the cows preferred these areas too.

In the winter we usually park so our slide-out is facing the view, that way we can sit at the table and watch the activity or take in the scenery from the warmth of our van. In the summer we usually have the door facing the view, then we can sit outside drinking (sometimes literally) in the spectacular views and enjoying the summer sun. I can't wait for summer because my bedside window is on the door side and I like to have it open to hear the sound of the ocean waves or a river passing close by.

That is Cape Turnagain, a prominent headland, on the other side of the bay. The cape was named by Captain James Cook in 1769, he sailed south to this point before deciding to turn and head north around New Zealand, hence the name.

And, it's not always the ocean view we see out the window. When you're out in the middle of nowhere it's a surprise to suddenly see a vehicle roaring past. Perfect and purposely fitted out for fishing I'd say. And in fact we later learnt that it was Lorraine & Art from the hotel- they were heading for the rabbit wall to check out the fishing. The rabbit wall is a wall of rocks on the beach which were put there to stop the rabbits from getting through. Though I'm not sure from what direction.

What a fantastic place to stay, we had the whole place to ourselves (well nearly if you don't count the local shepherds and fisher-people tearing by), wild, remote and rugged we both felt immediately at home. I went for a few walks down the beach at low tide.

Once I'd spotted a couple of rooks landing on the beach and I was hoping to catch them off guard by creeping along in the dune grasses, but we all got a fright when I stumbled upon them digging under a log. Rooks are quite common in the Hawkes Bay area but these are the first I've seen on this trip. 

I followed them up the beach for awhile but they always spotted me coming and flew further on. In the end I gave up and just took photos of the beach.

I found a number of mussel nurseries on the large rocks exposed at low tide, some interesting rock formations and the remains of  a vehicle tucked under a sand bank.

I walked home, back along the road...

...passing a few neighbours keeping a wary eye on me along the way.

And in fact every time I stepped outside or went for a walk I felt a hundred eyes following my every move...

I loved this little guy, that's him above trying to hide behind the road marker, he was giving the marker a hard time,  backing off and then running at and butting it as hard as he could. Except of course it kept bending over. It would bounce back and hit him in the face and he'd try again.

I hid behind the ute and he crept up on the van at one stage but then his mother saw me and called him and he raced off, kicking his heels up on the way.

When we returned to the village to check out the hotel, I took a few photos along the way- this is the memorial to the Herberts, early settlers after whom the town is named.  

In the late 1800s/early 1900s Herbertville used to be a thriving community. It had a large hotel, several shops, a police station and a blacksmiths. Schooners were beached on the vast expanse of shallow sandy beach on high tides and passengers and cargo unloaded. The ships would be refloated on the next high tide and carry on up the coast. Horse drawn coaches then made their way towards Dannevirke, 68km away. A memorial stands on the side of the road for past settlers; I think the cemetery is long gone, I couldn't see it anywhere.

The angle is a bit off here, there was a fence in my way, but it's interesting seeing the occupations and ages of past residents. This was just one side of the memorial (remember to click on the photos to enlarge)

The campground is pet friendly and also has 'permanent' sites which at $2500 for unlimited nights, per year, would make an excellent base for those that live on the road fulltime.

I love this bach, I could quite easily own this cutie.

And this old woolshed makes another excellent subject.

On our way home I stopped to take a photo of this grand old lady, the Burnview Station homestead. Burnview Station is just before Pipi Bank along the coast road.

We hadn't lingered in Herbertville as we actually had an appointment to keep- yes, in this most remote place we were due visitors! Lynn & Max have an Ultima 5th-wheeler too and have been following my blogs for a long while. The most amazing thing is that, Lynn had to drive over from Kimbolton in the Manawatu and collect Max who works at Weber and then come on out to Herbertville. They must have been really keen to see us- that is a bloody long way on very winding roads! 

It was great to meet them both, and we were treated to a some lovely goodies too. I didn't think the home-kill lamb chops would have looked quite the part in this shot, but they sure were tasty too.

Before we left the beach we drove to the top of the hill up the road. There's a track that goes all the way to Akitio, the next beach on our list south. Of course we wouldn't tow the 5th-wheeler over this track(although the bit we did cover would have been ok) but we wanted to see if the gate between the Akitio Station and Pipi Bank Station was open- we'd heard people do use the track with permission. The gate had a huge big padlock on it so there was no access to the uninvited today. 

Quintessential New Zealand- cabbage tree, surf beach, farm track, Ford utility (Ok, I put that in there for the Holden lovers). The view back down to the beach.

We had a lovely relaxing time at Pipi Bank but eventually it was time to head onto our next beach. 

Of course there were a couple of stops along the way; this family cemetery which is still being used by the Franklin family.

And a photo stop (only) at another country pub, the Wimbledon Tavern.


  1. Did you go into the Wimbleton Hotel? David may have been interested in the circular billiard table inside.

    1. Why didn't you tell us BEFORE we went! :) So no, we missed that little gem.

  2. My friend Gwen and I stayed at asmall bach in Weber a few years ago and spent a great day at Herbertville- it's a place we both want to come back to. We managed to walk to the rocks at the end almost by Cape Turnagain, then hitched a ride back on a quad bike! We went to the (Ithink it's called} Cock and Pullet which is upstairs in a house there somewhere.

    1. Weber? You were very keen then. It's not quite the place I'd want to holiday at but at least you made it out to Akitio. Yes. I read about the Cock & Pullet somewhere but it's either closed or only open over summer. I didn't see it. Cool name eh?


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