Northland's cheap camp sites to holiday this winter

By: Jill Malcolm, Photography by: Jill Malcolm


Jill's notes from the road reminisce on the best places to stay in Northland after watching the RV traffic flow in Australia

Last month, I drove the Pacific Highway along the Australian Eastern seaboard heading south from Brisbane to Coffs Harbour.

Shady -rest -areas -on -the -Pacific -Highway

I can’t pretend it’s anything owther than a long and tedious drive. But the monotony was relieved by counting the number of motorhomes and caravans heading north.

It seemed a whole convoy was heading for the sun. In one hour, I counted 52. That’s nearly one a minute. Clearly, I was heading in the wrong direction.

In the US, ‘mobile homers’ heading towards the sunbelt in the winter months are called Snowbirds; in Australia, heading north to the tropics, they’re dubbed Grey Nomads.

Far north cheap stays

In New Zealand, the trickle of RVs seeking warmer climes are known as Godwits. They head for the Far North where several delightful places offer hugely discounted weekly rates in winter. Following are some of the ones I have stayed at or am aware of.

Hihi Beach Holiday Camp - Mangonui

If you want to stay in the Mangonui area, Hihi Beach Holiday Camp (named for a stitch bird) is a small gem tucked away under spreads of exotic trees. It has with Wi-Fi and warm showers. 

NZMCA Rainbow Falls Park - Kerikeri

In Kerikeri, we spent a week at the delightful NZMCA Rainbow Falls Park, which for members, allows stays of up to 14 nights for only $3 per person per night. The lack of facilities did not bother us at all.

Bay of Islands Holiday Park - Russell

The Russell Top 10 Holiday Park slashes its winter weekly rate to $147 per vehicle and so does the Bay of Islands Holiday Park.

Whananaki Holiday Park - Whananaki 

Whananaki Holiday Park on the banks of a wide estuary charges $125 per week, and the friendly camp on the seafront at Houhora overlooking Mount Camel charges $120 for one week, $400 for one month, and $360 per month for two months.

Matauri Bay - Matauri 

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There are bound to be more places I haven’t discovered, but Matauri Bay (winter rate: $125 per week) is my favourite. The beach stretches out like a long grin towards a high knuckle of rock at its northern end.

Right next to the beach, the grassy camping ground is defined along its seaward edge by a row of tall Norfolk pines and overlooks the fish-rich waters of the Cavalli Islands.

The elements are inescapable but the moody environment of winter is appealing.

Walking the beaches can be a wildly exhilarating experience and there is always interesting marine debris that is brought in by the tide.

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