Monday, 8 October 2018

A Small Seaside Settlement- Sandspit


We left Shakespear Park heading north once again. We were hoping to stay at another couple of Auckland Regional Parks along the way but they were all either closed for winter, closed because of the ground conditions or had size restrictions. 

I was feeling a little despondent because I had wanted to explore some of the North Auckland area before we arrived in Northland. Usually when we travel this route, we're on a mission; it's getting from A to B and through Auckland and out the otherside- north or south- as quick as possible. This time I wanted to see a little bit more; it's been a long time since we've been in the area.

As we approached Warkworth, I was scanning the NZMCA parking app, checking the location of places available (or not as the case may be) and bemoaning the fact that I didn't really want to carry on to Northland without at least  a couple of days exploring the coastline. And that's when the Sandspit Holiday Park jumped out at me!

'Let's give that a go'. I said, just as we approached the notorious SH1 bottleneck intersection at Warkworth. We made it into the right lane just in time! 

Sandspit Holiday Park's quirky welcome- thought we ere visiting the
 West Coast's Shanty Town for a moment!
We usually stay at motor camps when we need to give the batteries a boost or do the laundry, neither was needed but it was great to have a lovely base from where we could explore for a few days.

We would have liked waterfront but those sites had just been re-grassed and then the site we thought we'd get into was very soft underfoot so we decided to back into a bigger area under the trees just off the road frontage. 

Even getting into the casual camping area was a tight fit, David had to back in from the entrance but we were very pleased with ourselves when it went smoothly and we parked perfectly! That was until I realised we'd made a rookie mistake. No TV reception! We were under the trees, even though they had no leaves. I mean, how long have we been doing this? I blame it on the two months parked in suburban Napier, we forgot one of the basics. Check reception before you unhitch! 

Well we weren't shifting so that was that, no TV for three days. Luckily we could watch TV On Demand on the iPad for the news and a couple of programmes but internet reception wasn't that hot either so in the end I gave up and processed a whole heap of photos instead.

Sandspit is a small seaside settlement on the edge of a large estuary which is fed by the Matakana River. It's also the gateway to Kawau Bay and the wider Hauraki Gulf area. Water taxis and tour boats leave the Sandspit Wharf to visit Kawau Island.

Sandspit also has a large boating community and a fairly new marina on the inland side of the spit.

There's a small wetland and mangrove swamp between the camp and the marina, and now with my newfound knowledge on Banded Rails I suspected that there would be a few hiding out in there. I got up before daybreak the next morning and crept along the edge of  mudflats beside the mangroves not 50 metres from our front door which was very cool. 

There was nothing in the first area so I moved on to the next mudflat beside the wharf carpark, not expecting anything as it was much more open. Famous last words!  I sneezed as I moved into the open and couldn't believe my eyes when not one, but three banded rail shot out from the mangroves right below my feet, streaking across the mud and disappearing into the scrub on the far side. No camera ready of course, but never mind, I was thrilled to see them. Talk about feast or famine. I went again the next morning but nothing, I even sneezed hoping for a repeat performance. 

Sandspit Holiday Park is mostly full of baches, cabins and permanent caravans; there's no doubt it would be a very busy place during the summer months. Many generations of Kiwi families would have holidayed here over the years, it's the perfect place for boating, fishing and for children swimming in the shallow waters when the tide is in.

Baches line the waterfront from the park right along the edge of the shallow estuary just above the tide line and below quite a steep bush covered hill.

There's obviously a theme going on with the bach names, a bit like the hidden West Coast fishing village of Kwitchatown which we visited near Haast. The little bach right at the entrance to the holiday park was named Starter Box; personally the Wine Box wins my vote.

I thought I'd found my dream setting a little further along, this bach was set a bit further away from the other holiday homes.

That was until I spied another bach hidden underneath a huge pohutukawa further along and around the next bend.

With no road and only low tide access, this would be a place to get away from it all. And I bet generations of the same family have spent their summers here. also had a very kiwiana sculpture in the 'front garden'; no doubt made from all the lost jandals that float in on the tide. Which reminds me of a jandal that broke while I was on a turtle spotting canoe tour in Bali, the guide paddled around in the rocks for a short time and then handed me a jandal he scooped out of the water. Of course it didn't match, it was a different colour and a different size but with my good one, it did the trick until I was able to buy a new pair a few days later.


  1. Lovely area there Shellie, but not a lot of places to freedom camp around the Warkworth area.

    1. Yes, not too many at all Mark, just as well we're happy to book into a camp for a few days. :)

  2. Love your photos, and your blog :-)
    Believe me. There's nothing on TV worth watching... oh. The New Doctor. You NEED reception.

    1. Thanks Vivienne, glad you enjoyed the blog. I know what you mean about TV, sometimes I just run it in the background for company! :)

  3. Love staying here .... even if it is only 5 minutes from home in snells beach

    1. Haha....yes, that is a very short drive from home! But I bet it feels like another world! :)


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