It was time to say goodbye to the Onaero Holiday Park, managed by the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association. This large camp has hundreds of campsites and we were parked down by the stream running into the sea. After the recent tsunami alert I had visions of huge walls of water racing towards us in the dead of night but luckily no such thing happened and we woke up safe and sound. Last evening we walked all around the grounds looking at the different camping areas and had good views from the top of the cliff.
Onaero Holiday Park campsites, and view from top of the cliff
Our route today took us along Surf Highway 45, so named because the Taranaki coastline has many well known surf breaks. Surfers from local areas and overseas ride the waves at breaks like Stent Road, the Kumera Patch and Fitzroy Beach. Robin felt a touch of nostalgia as we drove on past Oakura Beach. He had spent weekends and school holidays of his teenage years on this beach, as a Surf Lifesaver. As we continued along the road, we were intrigued to see hundreds of rounded mounds dotting the farmlands. These were created by ancient lahars which flowed down from Mount Egmont and created distinctive rounded hills over boulders.
Our stay tonight is at the Opunake Beach Holiday Park, a large camp with 90 powered sites and a brand new kitchen, laundry and ablution block. We made good use of the excellent laundry facilities and in between the showers, managed to get our laundry dry. Contrast this with the previous laundry duties undertaken at Otorohanga when the washing machine broke down, and the clothes had to be rinsed and wrung out by hand, and you can see why I am such a happy camper.
Opunake (punake translated from the Maori means canoe bow) is known as “the home of the big wave”. It was one of the first places in New Zealand to construct an artificial surf reef. Sir Peter Snell, one of New Zealand’s great middle distance runners, was born in Opunake. A large bronze statue in the main road honours his achievements.
Driving up to the cliff top lookout we had a wonderful view of rollers crashing down onto the beach. The bracing wind carried rain clouds inland, no wonder the Taranaki province is so fresh and green and supports many large herds of dairy cows.