The great Kiwi camping weekend

Last updated 10:09 03/09/2012

Camping is one of those great Kiwi pastimes, and having grown up camping first with all four of the family jammed into a two-man canvas pup tent, then later graduating to Nana's Sprite pop-top caravan, I am glad that I've kept  up my love for roughing it.

Living and working in a mostly urban environment can make it difficult sometimes to remember what it's all about, so whenever we get the chance, the bloke, the dog and I head off camping to Kaikoura for a weekend's R&R and a bit of communing with nature.

This is a ritual we have enjoyed for the past few years, and despite a few other trips here and there, we find ourselves drawn to Kaikoura whenever we get the opportunity to head away.

Of course, we are a bit blessed in our camping manoeuvres, because we have Morrison, our van (geddit?) that is kitted out to take us away for a night or a weekend with little to no hassle.

camping in Morrison

I bought Morrison off Trademe a few years ago, after reminiscing fondly about our camping adventures as kids, looking online for a caravan, and just chancing upon an ex-rental van that is all ready for camping adventures. And let's be honest, with an incredible graffiti art paint job of native birds, I couldn't really not buy it, could I?

It's not necessarily a luxury vehicle and we are lucky to make 100kmh on the downhill, but we pull off to the side of the road regularly, getting happy toots from the vehicles wanting to pass us and like the tortoise, we get there in the end.

The reason that we keep being drawn back to Kaikoura is that it's just so full of life. We can head up there on a Friday evening, make a coffee on the beach on a Saturday morning (we love to stay at the Peketa Beach campground)  and sip it while watching Hector's dolphins frolic in close to the shore.  This weekend we discovered a forest walk, which entailed traversing a couple of paddocks full of frisky young calves (tip: fingers look like udders to thirsty calves, look out!) before slogging up a hill into the bush, which was filled with fantails and bellbirds. Later on, a quick re-jig of the van to turn our sleeping arrangements into a table and chairs, giving enough room for the dog to stretch out, and we headed up the coast on the lookout for good snorkelling spots.

paua haul

I'm proud to say that this weekend, despite rather chilly temperatures (it doesn't seem to worry the bloke, he'll get in at any temperature), I bravely got in the water and bagged my first couple of paua for the season. Just for the record, we only have one catch bag (which currently is a chookfeed sack), so I had to stick my paua down the front of my wetsuit, which is squelchy and unnerving once they decide to move around!

The bloke introduced me to snorkelling for paua and I thoroughly enjoy it. We are very fussy about the paua we collect, and this time we put back three good-sized ones because we had enough for ourselves and the family. While we're in snorkelling, we see all kinds of things in the cool, (mostly) clear waters off the Kaikoura coast, including seals (we try to stay well out of their way), fish, crayfish and the odd octopus. Snorkelling around reminds us that we are small in the big scheme of things, and this time while it was good to grab a feed of paua, it was also good to see how many were there that would be left behind. I also love the fact that while I'm pottering around the rocks in the water, every time I stick my head up to measure a paua, I can hear a cacophony of bellbirds from the bush-covered hillsides directly behind me.

We had a great time snorkelling around the rocks this weekend, and we were both enjoying a nip of brandy afterwards to warm up when the bloke looked at me and said, "You know, love, I've been thinking about it, and I honestly don't reckon it gets much better than this."

This time, I couldn't think of a reason to argue with him at all.


Nemo is a happy camper too.

What about you guys? Do you enjoy camping? What are your favourite spots?

Post a comment
gazza   #1   10:20 am Sep 03 2012

I do enjoy camping. We don't have a van but have a 4 person tent along with all the gadgets (including the portable gas BBQ we got last christmas...which is awesome).

We tend to move around a bit in our camping and graviate more to the cheaper (preferrably free) DOC campsites as I prefer the mountains as opposed to the beach. The girlfriend likes the beach though so we do end up camping there a bit.

Nicola Toki   #2   10:43 am Sep 03 2012

Hi @gazza #1, DOC campgrounds are AWESOME. cheap as chips, usually in the nicest places, and depending on the time of year, can be quite quiet if you like a less crowded spot. Good call.

Karlos   #3   10:55 am Sep 03 2012

That's pretty much as Kiwi as you can get! Good times. I'm looking forward to Summer now.

Julie   #4   11:08 am Sep 03 2012

I'm from Kaikoura currently away studying, it's great to read positive stuff about home, you really appreciate Kaikoura's beauty when you've been away for a while, it's truly an amazing place and there's no where else like it :)

Silarnon   #5   11:16 am Sep 03 2012

Loved the family camping. Usually we'd go to Kaiteriteri, but across two years we took a tour of each main island, essentially performing a giant loop, travelling with our Grandpop's caravan.

There were stops to many natural locations, like Farewell Spit, visiting the Mount Bruce Wildlife Centre (I still have a keyring), Fox Glacier, and others, as well as a buried Maori village.

Both parents were teachers, which allowed us to take these long tours, so we often had time to see things. My parents, regular subscribers to Forest & Bird, made sure we saw as many nature spots as possible.

Great days, long since gone.

Rob   #6   11:30 am Sep 03 2012

Peketa Beach is one of my (many) favourite spots to camp! Great memories of pitching the tent right by the beach then getting up to watch early to watch the sun rise. Bliss! Okarito would have to be another of my mostest favourites :)

Erina   #7   11:42 am Sep 03 2012

Ah, yes. I love it. Sadly, before I came along, my parents decided that camping with small children was a lot of work, and often wet and miserable. Hence, they never took me. However, have been introduced to this wonderful activity as an adult, and when my man comes along, he does all the cooking and all the cleaning up afterwards. Many a night star-gazing from the camp-fire, it's wonderful. Maybe you could do a post on saving the night sky?

Alan_Wilkinson   #8   11:47 am Sep 03 2012

The Kaikoura coast was our favourite as kids. We were a bit daunted one year though when we explored up the stream we had been camping beside and drinking from for a couple of days and discovered a very dead cow in it. No deadly illnesses resulted however.

janet   #9   11:49 am Sep 03 2012

I love camping too but this year we have been joined by a new puppy and I'm struggling to find a list of camping grounds where she will be welcome. Any suggestions anyone?

Richard   #10   12:02 pm Sep 03 2012

Nice article, my vote would be for the Hawdon Valley in Arthur's Pass National Park, Kiwi calling during the night, orange fronted Parakeets across the river if you know where to find them.. and a nice quiet campsite. Magic

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