Sunday, 29 April 2018

Beach Hop North- Kaiaua & Anaura Bays


The weather still hadn't settled after a wet and windy day at Tolaga Bay but we decided to head off anyway, it was just a 10km hop, skip & jump to our next camp at Kaiaua Bay, another freedom camping site that is on the Gisborne District Council permit.

Kaiaua Bay, East Coast
The road into the bay was once again a narrow winding country road; although this one really was narrow in a couple of places where wash-outs had taken out the roadside. I've only just noticed the width of our lane in this photo!

A gravel road runs along the front of the bay with a narrow grassy strip separating it from the beach. A long section of the strip is available for camping although much of it is uneven. 

Pam & Gerald (relatives we'd been with in Gisborne) were heading here when they left Gisborne but had reported back that they'd only stayed one night due to the weather; they had been wind and sand blasted and the motorhome had rocked and rolled all night. It is a very exposed site sitting up on the sand bank above the crashing waves. It was still raining on and off , blowing a gale and quite bleak outdoors so we decided we'd head on too. 

The next camp in our sights was just another 21kms further on and it's NOT on the Gisborne District Council camping permit. There are two campsites at beautiful Anaura Bay, one a commercial campground and the other a DOC camp. 

As with the other secluded bays we've visited, the road in is relatively short, 6-8kms, narrow and winding. Anaura has a short sharp climb to the top of the hill before a winding descent down into the bay. We stopped so I could take a photo at the top of the climb but the day was still overcast and we also stopped on the way out, so I had a sunny day shot for the blog.

The ground underfoot at the DOC camp site was very boggy with a few muddy tracks where people had attempted to drive and a lot of surface water laying across the large site; it was still raining off and on. Gumboots on, we squelched our way through the grass looking for a relatively dry area to park.

One of the tracks led through a gate out onto the sand bank beside a small lagoon. I checked out the signs at the gate and with nothing mentioned about not being allowed to camp out there, I beckoned David to drive on through. 

It was the perfect spot to park; high and dry with good drainage through the sand, and with great views over the lagoon and out to sea.

After we'd set up camp (you can just see the rig through the trees below) David went for a walk and came back in a fluster. 'Didn't you see the 'No Camping sign?' he asked me. I swear I didn't, I told him about the dog and tsunami signs but.......can you see it?

We made an executive decision and decided to stay put. Which is not like us; although we moan and grumble about some restrictions we come across in our travels, we usually conform to the norm (I say usually but there have been a few times we've bucked the system, though those stories are for another day). 

We decided we couldn't be seen from the camp and we'd already watched a couple of campervans arrive and leave after deciding not to drive in through the muddy entrance. So we justified it in our minds that we'd likely be the only ones in the camp for the night, and hey, we just couldn't pull ourselves away from the view! 

It was not till much later (after the rain had stopped) that I had a wander around camp and back to the entrance where it also mentioned not to camp on the otherside of the fence. Oops....we lived dangerously for a night.

Anaura Bay was deserted, we saw just a couple of people walking along the beach later in the day and that was it, we had the place to ourselves. There are groups of  homes and holiday baches dotted along the road including a cluster in the corner of a small headland just up from the campground.

Where there also looks to have been/still is a farm homestead in behind an overgrown mass of huge trees and thick bamboo bordering the dunes, where hidden in amongst the greenery, I spotted an abandoned tree hut.

A strange thing happened on our doormat just before sunset; hundreds of tiny NZ mud snails came out of the long grass spreading themselves out across the mat and all over our Crocs. Once it was dark, they were gone.

Clearing skies and a rainbow short on colour were the last signs of rain just as the sun went down.

I was up early the next morning to catch another one of those magnificent East Coast sunrises...

...and it didn't disappoint. This time reflected in the lagoon as well, the sky and water were a blaze of fiery reds and oranges.

Even for me, the queen of sunrise shots, this one was nothing short of spectacular.

The oranges and reds were soon replaced with beautiful yellows as the golden globe poked it's head above the horizon...

...and behind me, as the dawn became day the pink hues of sunrise slowly disappeared...

...along with the lingering cloud to reveal a perfect blue sky day; one that was sure to bring people out and about. It was time to remove ourselves from our gorgeous but illicit little camp site.

We stopped near the commercial camp (which is in the old school grounds) on our way out of the bay to check the marker stone that commemorates the bicentenary of  British explorer James Cook making landfall in Anaura Bay on 21 October 1769.  

We had a slow trip out to the main road after coming up behind this chap as he tootled back to his farm totally oblivious to the us crawling along behind him. No matter, we're travelling in East Coast time now.  This is what we love about travelling the back roads, you never know what you're going to see next. 


  1. You can never take too many sunrise or sunset shots.....these were crackers.
    I’m sure they wern’t the only ones you took!


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