Resting At Rays Before A Weekend With Friends

Our next camping spot after leaving Auckland on Wednesday 14th October was another fantastic free one. We’re marvelling at how many there are here in New Zealand. Admittedly there may be a similar number in the UK and Europe but it’s like anything in life, once your attention focusses on something you suddenly see more of that.

Ray’s Rest Overnight

We’d spotted Ray’s Rest Reserve at Kaiaua in the NZMCA Directory, where it stated you’re only supposed to camp from 6 pm to 10 am, so we didn’t rush, but when we pulled in around 5.30 pm there were already around a dozen motor homes and campervans lined up. From a distance, they appeared to be queueing, but that wasn’t so. They were just lined up in a row. You can stay here for two nights, so I’m sure there are vans parked up most of the day and it’d be very popular in summer!

It’s a bird sanctuary, mostly for Oystercatchers.

Not just any old Oystercatcher mind-you, but a multitude of Southern Pied Oystercatchers. They’re such beautiful birds and didn’t seem particularly bothered by our presence – though kept a safe distance away. I guess they’re used to humans invading their home.

On a walk along the seashore before tea, when the tide was high, we spotted one or two ‘Variable Oystercatchers‘, which aren’t as colourful and larger. There were also some much smaller birds, with their offspring, hopping around on one leg which we think were Dotterels.

What a peaceful place, it felt very restful and soul-nourishing. The southern end of the beach is more protected and camping isn’t allowed. The groups of oystercatchers grew larger the further we ventured. Just gorgeous.

There followed a spectacular sunset, then I, unfortunately, woke up half an hour late for the sunrise but captured the essence on camera regardless. I could only see it and photograph through the window by the bed as I couldn’t open the sliding door it would’ve disturbed the birds, the neighbours, and a sleeping Barry!

I was mesmerised watching the line of birds meters from us digging into shells with their long thin needle-like beaks. Every now and again one would literally jump for joy to find a delicacy and hop to the sea line to eat it. It looked like they were adding a bit of salt and pepper! Other Oystercatchers attempted to highjack their find but to no avail. What a spectacle it was, Mother Nature at her best.

As the tide went out that morning, the mudflats showed themselves looking ripe for kai moana (seafood) for the avian population. Barry’s once again excelled himself in the slideshow of stunning images at the end of this post.

Thank you, Raymond Vernon Stevens, for gifting people this magical place to stop and stare a while.

A Short Stop In Thames

Oh my goodness, Iove this place! I think if we didn’t have Gisborne as a ‘home’ in New Zealand, this would be my next favourite place to live.

Its location on the west coast of The Coromandel Penisula is idyllic, and I adore their High Street. I’ve visited many times since 2002, and always enjoy the spirit/feel of the area. Unlike our next port of call Tauranga, which quite frankly leaves me cold. I realise it’s a popular place to live, but not for me, not ever. It’s much too busy, too populated, too materialist, just too similar to many places in the UK.

New Zealand ‘Op Shops’ are amazing. There are great charity shops in the UK, but I seriously believe they’re not a patch on those you find here. I think I may dedicate a whole post to them in future. They even, unbelievably, have their own directory website – We discovered quite a number in Thames, and I have to confess I bought a few ‘essentials’ in our short time. Including clothes – the most delightful coloured ‘going out’ jacket, because well you know even when you live in a campervan you like to dress up sometimes. A couple of tops, a swirly gorgeous skirts, and the most amazing colourful A-line silky dress. I seem to recall all together they cost less than $20, £10. What a bargain!

The cheeky stuffed animals in this one tickled me – though the stuff in the shop was more antique than bric-a-brac. What a great sense of humour. During our time there he rearranged them at least once.

The weather continued to be cooler and damp, so we continued towards our next destination of Tauranga to visit a number of friends for the weekend.

Overnight At Waihi Beach

We chose yet another superb FREE camping place, for five (maybe six?) campervans/motorhomes at Waihi Beach. This is a stunning place, with a seemingly never-ending beach. The maximum stay is three nights, but we’ve yet to stay anywhere longer than two due to our relentless itinerary!

The camp was minutes’ walk to a beach similar to Wainui in Gisborne. The Thursday evening was cold and wet, and I had work calls back-to-back from 9 pm to midnight. We woke up to an early FaceTime call with our youngest grandson, playing ‘snap’ at bedtime with Lisa using the New Zealand scenes playing cards we’d sent shortly after arriving in Gisborne. We looked out of the window to discover blue skies and sunshine one again. Yay!

Next stop was to stay for the weekend with Barry’s bestest friend (yeah I know, that’s not a real word but it describes what I mean perfectly). Lee is my ‘twin’, as he was born on the same day, same year as me which is rather spooky.

Barry captured a few more super images of this part of our journey to share:

(Click on an image to view the slideshow)

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