In “Beached Az” we highlight awesome beachside camping spots we visited near/on the east side of the Coromandel peninsula on New Zealand’s North Island. Beached Az may also refer to our recent weight gain from too many fish & chips.
“Beached Az” is a silly cartoon that emerged in NZ in the late-2000’s and became a popular Kiwi meme. As with any popular meme, it is difficult to explain – Aussies draw a beached whale with an exaggerated Kiwi accent that was so mildly offensive/cute the Kiwi’s embraced the meme as funny anyway.
After arriving back in Auckland, we picked up the Maui Camper from thl, unloaded luggage from the rental car, loaded the camper, returned the rental car and stowed our stuff. We hit the road by noon and embarked on a winding 3.5 hour drive to Whitianga on the east side of the Coromandel Peninsula on Mercury Bay. We provisioned and stocked at the very nice New World grocery store before heading over to Flaxmill Bay Resort only a quarter mile as the crow flies (via passenger-only ferry), but another 23 miles of driving to get around around the estuary.
Our camper for the next 32 nights was four berth Maui “Beach” camper rental picked up at the Auckland International Airport. New Zealand manufactures many of its own rental RVs on the Mercedes Sprinter truck chassis. The Beach model is a class C on a Mercedes Sprinter chassis, so except for the wheel and all controls being on the “wrong side”, and a much larger rig, I leveraged the Sportsmobile 4×4 Sprinter driving experience to get quickly comfortable with the rental rig.
The Maui Beach Camper
The 4 berth Maui “Beach” model does the job as a fairly spacious rental camper for the two of us. The extra cab-over berths store our luggage and gear out of the way. We leave the main lounge area as the bedroom with the double bed made up all the time. The dinette is our main seating area for meals and computing. If the weather is nice we live/read/eat most of the time outdoors under the shade awning.
The small tank capacities, single AGM battery and 100W solar panel limit boondocking (“freedom camping”) to only one or two days. The rigs are really designed to be plugged into 240V powered sites in campgrounds. The Beach has 21 gallon tanks (82L) for fresh and gray water and a ~5 gallon (17L) black water toilet cassette, or about two days worth. Maui recommends only 1-2 days away from shore power.
We started with the Coromandel Peninsula and Mercury Bay Beaches Whitianga, Flaxmill Bay & Cooks Beach (4 days) and Hahei Beach (4 days), then south to the Bay of Plenty beaches: Waihi Beach (5 days), Mount Maunganui (5 days), Papamoa Beach (7 days), Ohope (3 days) and finally back north Opoutere (3 days) before returning the rig to Auckland – 32 great days at the beach. Click on the map to zoom in and explore around.
And Friends too!
Our sailing friends Tom and Barb from Waiheke Island came over to visit us in Whitianga and were nice enough to drive us around exploring the entire area in their car. Much less stressful than driving the RV! We also met their 2-year old lab “Gosi”. It was a great catch-up and we’ll spend more time with them when we’re on Waiheke Island.
Late January through late February is the best time of the year for weather in this area. Except for a few days of rain and wind while in Papamoa and Ohope, the weather was perfect – mid to high 70’s F in the day and low to mid 60’s F at night (~17-26 C). We counted five total days of rain in 32. Not too bad.
Summer holiday season in New Zealand is when many Kiwis use the long break to camp in large groups with friends and families. With a little pre-planning in mid 2020, we secured bookings in many popular beachside campgrounds which resulted in fairly crowded conditions. Though it was great to see all the Kiwi families enjoying the holidays on all their awesome beaches, we will choose to camp in a shoulder-season vs peak season going forward – less crowds, more quiet and less expensive.
Kiwi Camping Style
East coast beach camping concluded on February 20 – returning the rig, renting another car and heading off to Waiheke Island. See you in the next post. Cheers!