Houhora Heads Motor Camp and Wagener Holiday Park is within easy reach of 90 Mile Beach. Be sure to have a look at New Zealand's oldest pioneer mansion: the Subritzky/Wagener Homestead built in 1859. Enjoy the Wagener historic gallery with a souvenir gift shop. Nature provided an almost landlocked picturesque beach here.
The adjacent beach is popular for 'all-over' tanning. It has a boat ramp and a reputation for fishing (gear for hire), kayaks and beach bikes. Sites vary from spectacular water views to ones with seclusion and privacy. Although there are 120 power sites, a large area of the camp has been set aside for unstructured non-power camping. There is a special area for campers with dogs. Laundry and kitchen facilities are clean and tidy. There are ample, roomy, metered showers and flush toilets. Sewerage and dump point are available, also a car wash.
Your hosts are Mick and Dawn. Tent sites are $12 per person or $14 per person with power, plus $5 per night per site.
We also have 2, 3 and 4 berth cabins, and 2 en-suite cabins. Cabins $20 per person. En-suite an extra $2 per person.
Please note: High season and public holiday surcharge may apply.
Official website: www.northlandholiday.co.nz
ADMIN NOTE: This venue is now under a new branding. You can find the new listing under Wagener Holiday Park
Houhora holiday park is about an hour and forty minutes from Kerikeri or thirty minutes from Kaitaia.
The camp grounds provide a small shop in the office, a boat ramp, kayak hire (current prices are $15 for a single, $25 for a double and all with a $20 bond for a minimum of 4 hours), a boat and car wash at $2, internet access and plenty of space to camp. There is a gas station 3 kms up the road and small shopping centre around 5 kms for any items that you might need.
After being quoted $11 per adult per night, I was a bit annoyed to arrive and be changed $12 per adult per night by a rather rude office lady. My 9 year old daughter was only $6 per night, which I thought to be a reasonable price, and under 5's are free. After paying for our site and being given our car sticker, which is bright day glow orange with what looks like a deformed angel, the office lady jumped on her golf cart to show us where we could camp. Instead of giving us a flat site (because they were all booked, yet we were told we weren't allowed to book), we set up camp on a slightly hilled area. The upside to this was that the water was less than 10 meters from our tents and we had a tap about the same distance in the other direction.
Over the other hill, heading inland towards the office, about a 100 meters away was a small toilet block, one males, one females, in what appeared to have been at one point old water tanks. The problem with these toilets (and evidence shows they have been there for some time), is that there is no proper lock for them. They have an old padlock bracket with no slider, a piece of rope about 20 cm long and a tent peg. With this interesting set up, the door still opens about 10cms, so that anyone needing to go to the toilet could see what you are doing inside. It also has what looks like an old pvc pipe hole in the roof, so you wouldn't want to use these in the rain or shortly after.
From here, about 50 meters away, there is a new wooden playground for under 10 year olds, that has only recently been installed. About 50-75 meters from there is a kitchen, shower, wash house and toilet block, that all locks properly and safely. The showers are all coin operated and take $1 coins. You can wander pretty much anywhere in the camp grounds, but need to respect the privacy of the land owners near The Subritzky Homestead, which you are invited to view and look at. After much discussion with a gentleman at the camp, we found out that the homestead has recently been renovated and has no furniture in it, meaning that the only viewing inside the homestead that you can do is through the windows. This is very disappointing as it was built in 1859.
There once was a cafe and museum based on the camping grounds, and from what I could find out, they sadly had to shut them down due to unforeseen circumstances around 5 years ago. The museum was quite a draw card for Kiwis and tourists alike and is still advertised on a lot of overseas websites.
On the channel side of the camping ground, the water is amazingly clear and you can see all sorts of sea life at your feet. The colours of the seaweed are just breath-taking. We went down for a swim at high tide and despite this fact, it was still shallow enough for a 3 year old child to walk about 150 meters from the shore. (PLEASE: Take responsibility for children in your care near and in the water as conditions change.) On the inlet side of the camp, the water at low tide is a rusty orange colour but gives you walking access to the peninsula and some good fishing and seafood access. At high tide, this is really clear and on our last morning camping, we got to see a sting ray swimming right past our "back door".
The website for the camping ground, and signage, appear to be about 20 years old, if not more. This really let the place down and are really not that informative. From what I understand, the people that are running the camping ground are not the owners but I wasn't sticking around for long enough to ask them questions when they were rather rude. One of our group left early and was told that it is "policy not to give refunds for un-used nights." This maybe a fair thing to refuse but they could have made sure that everyone was aware of this fact, instead of assuming that a laminated A4 sign in an already crowded office could and would be seen and read.
Note: All prices stated were correct at the time of this review.
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