Paekakariki holiday park, village and beach was such a marvellous surprise especially as my family and I were hoping to stay in Wellington for the night! Driving a Kea rental camper van, I was surprised to find that there were no camping grounds close to the city centre and the nearest that came up when I was doing my research was a motor park in Newlands where I was supposed to be able to pay to park in their carpark – hardly the most picturesque sounding place. Funnily enough upon arriving, it turned out that they didn’t even have room for me and my camper anyway. With no plan except to head north to Wanganui, I set off in the hope I’d find a campsite or layby before it got dark.
Paekakariki holiday park – one of New Zealand’s best campsites
Having headed north on SH1 for about 45 minutes, I came to Paekakariki, a rather sleepy looking town, that had a ‘holiday park’ sign. Not expecting much more than a bare ground site, I was surprised that such as little town had such a big camping ground. My son was thrilled to find not only a playground but also trampolines too! Perfect to keep the little fella entertained.
After enjoying a BBQ in the tranquil surroundings of the camp site and trying out the facilities including the internet kiosk to check my emails, we had a peaceful nights sleep. Next morning we headed off to the beach which was just a short walk away. Paekakariki beach is a long, sandy beach which overlooks Kapiti Island and is therefore reasonably sheltered from some of the more gusty winds. The gentle slope into the sea, made it ideal for paddling in and there was plenty of room for sandcastle building.
A stroll along the parade revealed a gift shop-come coffee shop that also sold tubs of ice cream (triple chocolate, don’t mind if I do!). Further along the road we discovered Campbell Park which is a rather large kids playground with equipment to suit little ones right through to bigger kids. Yet more strolling around Paekakariki uncovered a village style centre complete with dairy (aka convenience store), deli and a couple of restaurants – one of which we earmarked for the evening.
Paekakariki station had an olde world charm and although it wasn’t open on the day we were there, boasted a museum and steam train rides too. Certainly worth a look if you’re heading through that way.
All in all, Paekakariki proved to be an unexpected delight, in fact it was a highlight in our journey north from Wellington to Wanganui and certainly better that the anticipated overnight stay in a motel car park!
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