| Dec 23, 2013
Very soon, we will be launching our very own guide to New Zealand's best wilderness camping spots - the WilderNessts camping guide will be available exclusively to Wilderness hirers. We loaned a draft of the guide to a hirer Lynette recently and she sent us this feedback.
The NESST Guide is a valuable resource sharing the secrets of a selection of real Kiwi camping sites. All very well for the locals who have spent years ‘ferreting out’ the best spots, but when time is limited in New Zealand, we were grateful for the ‘inside information’. With the trusty NESST Guide on hand and a very good GPS, we decided not to venture too far from Auckland on our first night, yet we wanted to be free from the stress of the city. We chose to explore Awhitu Peninsula and stop the night at Hamilton’s Gap.
Once off the motorway we drove through some of the most lush farmland and market gardens we have ever seen. Unfortunately we didn’t stop in Pukekohe, but couldn’t resist dropping in to explore the little character village of Waiuku. The name actually translates as ‘muddy or discoloured waters’ which is a bit cruel for such a delightful little town that boasts living history and sunsets. We stopped a while to view some of its heritage buildings, including the newly refurbished Kentish Hotel, one of the most famous watering holes in the district.
I digress! The road down Awhitu Peninsula runs through some unbelievably beautiful countryside. Such a narrow peninsula has the Tasman Sea pounding the black sands of its west coast and the Manukau Harbour lapping the white sands of its east coast. Anyway, it was getting late and we were tired, so we followed the directions in the NESST Guide to Hamilton’s Gap. For a moment we thought we were going to have to share one of the farmer’s paddocks with about six hefty Angus bulls. Then the road suddenly ended in a grassy parking area overlooking a rugged seascape, with a gently flowing stream separating the area from huge sand-dunes. The sand-dunes had their own fascination because the wind had separated the black surface sand from the tan coloured under-sand producing a continuous black and tan zebra design along the full length of the dune.
Hamilton’s Gap is in the middle of nowhere, yet it has very informative interpretation panels about the area and large chunks of the coastline are protected as part of a conservation project. The architecture of the public toilets made us giggle,......but what a luxury beside a free camping area!
We couldn’t wait to kick off our shoes, paddle across the stream and run down the beach. Must admit I went crazy with the camera snapping the surreal shapes of the cliff-faces distorted by wind and tide into abstract clay art-forms.
As per ‘instructions’ in the NESST Guide, we had our bottle of wine ready to enjoy while watching the setting sun, but alas it was slightly overcast making the final rays look like a back-lit curtain. It was time to cook dinner anyway and we were too busy studying our maps and tourist guides. The rest of the Awhitu Peninsula looked so very tempting, especially the Manukau Heads lighthouse at the end. This was the moment we KNEW we should have extended our stay in New Zealand.