This was our first full summer holiday living on Waiheke Island and the first few weeks were filled with visitors. It was wonderful to see so many friends and family but it was also quite exhausting for us all. I realised that we hadn’t built in any real downtime for the family and so 4 weeks into our holiday time we were all still feeling pretty frazzled. So we decided to head away camping to Motutapu Island which we can actually see from Waiheke.
We decided to get a water taxi from Waiheke Island as it made our life really easy. It was $150 each way for our family of 5, all our camping gear and two fishing kayaks. The trip across only takes 10 minutes. I discovered once we were there that the ferry service no longer goes to Motutapu Island which is a real shame. So in fact you can only get there by water taxi, your own boat or catch the ferry to Rangitoto Island and hike across (a long way!!)
The only downside of the water taxi was that the wharf is about 700m away from the camp ground which doesn’t sound far … until you have to lug a lot of camping gear and three tired kids all that way. It took a lot of trips to get our gear across!!!
Luckily the day we left the ranger offered to come with his Ute and drive all our gear around for us … what a legend!
For most of our 5 days we were the only people at this beautiful DOCS (National Parks) campground. We set up between 2 Pohutakawa trees near the toilet block, right by the beach. The campground is basic (which we really like) – so no showers, BBQ’s, tables etc.
You need to either bring drinking water or boil the spring water available.
There are cows in the farmland surrounding the campground which my girls loved. We saw Pukeko’s and even saw 4 Takahe which are an endangered New Zealand bird. We went on a “Kiwi” hunt one night but didn’t see or hear any Kiwi’s.
THINGS TO DO
Swimming – It was a bit windy for swimming while we were there but in hotter, calmer weather swimming would be great.
Sea Glass collecting – my girls spent HOURS collecting sea glass from all along the beach!
Fishing – All three girls managed to catch small snapper from the beach (not big enough to keep though) which was lots of fun.
My husband went out one morning in his kayak and brought home a big feed for us though.
Hiking – there are LOTS of hikes on Motutapu but they are not all suitable for young children as you need to walk a fair way to get places, and it is very hilly.
We did two great walks though:
- Home Bay – Motutapu Battery – Centenary Loop – Home Bay – 2 1/2 hours including breaks
2. Home Bay – Islington Wharf (via track) – Home Bay (via the road) – about 4 hours including breaks
Just hanging – one of my favourite things to do when camping … just hang. We built a little bivouac to hang under. Reading, cards, colouring in, sea glass sorting … hanging.
WOULD WE GO AGAIN?
Absolutely! We plan to return and perhaps take some friends along next time. Although I loved having the whole campground to ourselves my kids missed having other kids around to play with.
PS – like all good adventures not everything went to plan! We broke 2 tent poles setting up our tent in high winds, lucky I am married to “McGyver” … but then hubbie contracted shingles! Luckily he could paddle his fishing kayak back to Waiheke Island to see a doctor ….
Happy to say my meal planning worked perfectly though.