West to East for Christmas – Ohiwa

Catching up…

Leaving Raglan on the west coast of the North Island the day before Christmas, we crossed the Island to Ohiwa in the Bay of Plenty on the east coast.

We had booked a couple of sites at the Ohiwa Beach Holiday Park back in October, to spend four nights here over the Christmas holiday period with family.

It has great facilities, a swimming pool, playground and a huge jumping pillow. These seem to be essential at all the best parks these days as the kids love them. It was busy, but it was great to see families enjoying the summer holidays in this traditional Kiwi way.

Lots of tents of all shapes and sizes, motorhomes, and caravans including this wee cutie…

Management told us that some families book in year after year, and now their grown children are doing the same with their families.

It’s that kind of place.

There are no shops here so it pays to stock up before you come. The camp can supply basics like bread, but it’s frozen and $5 a loaf. They do sell Magnums (chocolate covered icecreams on sticks) though, and these are a real treat on a hot summer’s day.

I’m reminded of savouring a TT2 in my own childhood summer holidays. Who remembers TT2 ice blocks?

The camp sites are generous, there are plenty of trees and it’s right on a long sandy beach.

Our first night was a little wet, but we knew the forecast wasn’t good for Christmas Day.

In the end Christmas Day turned out to be just fine...

Behind the camp is the Onekawa Te Mawhai Regional Park – a 20 hectare native Forest with giant pohutukawa and puriri trees.

The views are amazing, there’s plenty of bird life and even glow worms if you go after dark. It’s also the location of the Onekawa Pa site. There’s a loop walk that takes a couple of hours and includes Bryans Beach and the Onekawa Pa. it’s a bit of a climb.

Ohiwa Harbour from the top

That’s the end of the Ohope Spit in the centre of the photo…

A little about Ohiwa – on the Pacific Coast Highway travelling from Ohope Beach, Whakatane, Ohiwa Harbour comes into view. You can follow the harbour’s edge right around to the Ohiwa Spit, which sits right opposite the end of Ohope Beach, with the entrance to Ohiwa Harbour between the two points. The Ohiwa Spit is where the holiday park is situated.

The harbour is very pretty when the tide’s in…

Here evening is falling and we’re hoping to see some glow worms on our walk up in to the Regional Park…

…unfortunately we were too early. It wasn’t dark enough.

If you’re a bird watcher there are over 60 birds which live and breed around the Ohiwa Harbour, including the endangered NZ Dotterel, Variable Oystercatchers, White Fronted Terns and Black Billed Gulls. Eastern Bar Tailed Godwits arrive from Alaska in September and return in April each year.

It’s a lovely corner of New Zealand and one I can recommend.

We want to stay a little longer than our booking in the holiday park will allow, so we’ll be going on to Ōpotiki, just 16 kms further east for a couple of days.

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