Family 'glamps' it up in Orewa

16:00, Jan 08 2014
GETTING AROUND: Bicycles are a great way to explore Orewa, especially with the Te Ara Tahuna Estuary Cycleway so close.

The idea of spending more than 200 days every year on holiday with jobs and young children to think about may seem like a pipe dream.

For the Cleverly family it's part of their regular lifestyle.

What's more, the campers - or "glampers" as they call themselves - only have to tow their caravan about 45 kilometres from their Te Atatu home to reach the Orewa Beach Top 10 Holiday Park, where they have hired a plot for the past couple of years.

Carl, Jackie and their daughter Jacey, 11, make the trip along the Auckland motorway system every weekend in the summer and at least every other weekend in the winter.

They can also be found relaxing at the beachside spot right through the school holidays and occasionally in the middle of the working week.

The Cleverlys run an engineering business, although their humble campsite abode offers a simple way of living, with a barbecue for most meals, bikes for getting around and no TV.


"We like it for the social scene - we're sociable people - and it's for the kids," Mr Cleverly says.

"Our daughter is an only child so it's really nice that she can have sleepovers with her friends. Sometimes there are about six kids in the awning giggling away.

"She nags to come here because she misses her friends. They all congregate at the trampoline or the park - we don't see her all day apart from when she's hungry or thirsty.

"Because we're on a concession site, a lot of people know us, so there are always eyes looking out for us to make sure she's OK and it's the same with the other children as well."

The facilities on site and the sense of community there make it a highly desirable location for the family.

"It's not really camping," Mr Cleverly says. "Glamping they call it because you've got a kitchen, a toilet, hot water - it's not exactly roughing it."

Returning to their Te Atatu house, the first thing which strikes them is the increased living space, but there's also plenty of breathing room when they're camping too.

"I've got to get away every now and then otherwise I'd blow up," Mr Cleverley says. "I get out just doing odd bits and pieces like fixing someone's outboard motor (Carl was previously a mechanic) then we get together for meals and things."

It means they can stay geographically close to their clients, mainly based in West Auckland, while the family can enjoy their home away from home on the Hibiscus Coast.

The camping grounds offer plenty to keep the whole family occupied. As well as the sun, sea and sand, Carl and Jackie have a boat for fishing.

In the school holidays there's a church group for the children, crafts, camp games, and a games room open all year round.

The camping community gets together on the first weekend of every month to cook dinner for each other, which means catering for up to 20 people. So that's food, entertainment, transport, a place to sleep and friends taken care of.

"There is a problem with this place," Mr Cleverly says. "On the way to the toilet you can be stopped that many times [by bumping into friends], sometimes you've got to take the back way, otherwise you'd never get there!"

Rodney Times