About us & Our History
We're a park dedicated to camping not moteling. We have not gone down the route of resort style facilities, cramped campsites and unaffordable camping.
Instead we've remained true to traditional Kiwi Beachfront Camping. Outdoors, shady campsites and an open mind to outdoor activities. Twitter is what birds do and Face in a book (or is it Facebook) sounds like a term when someone should be left alone to read a paperback in the sun.
Our facilities are clean, tidy and functional. With our safe beachside location, para pool and large grounds there is plenty of room to spread out and relax. A traditional kiwi camping location and philosophy at affordable prices for New Zealanders.
The camp probably began in the 1950's when the Ministry of Works were doing a major roaring project at Tirohanga and needed an area to dump excess roaring fill. Crown land between the shop and beach seemed to be a good place for it, so bulldozers and motor scrapers moved in and laid layers and layers of soil over a 5.7 hectare area. A Mr campbell waas an operator of one of the machines at the time he also had a lease on the Tirohanga Store. His dream was to create a campground over the fill so negotiated a 99 year lease with the Crown. A toilet was set up behind the shop and a sign placed on the road TENT SITES.
Raising finance to build his dream was a bit of a problem but in 1959 Ted Ryan was floating around and was willing to take over the lease and build his dream for him. Thats when Tirohanga Motor Camp was born Ted, his brother and sister and old mate Roy and Betty West would come up from Taranaki on the weekends with tree plantings and canna lilies and plan out the camp.
In 1975 Ted had a new ambition so he put the camp in the market . Ian and Val McLellan had a dairy farm at Reporoa and were looking for way out and Opotiki kind of had a attraction for them . After horse trekking around the cape with the Reporoa Pony Club a few years earlier .They looked at about three dry stock farms around the area but the camp lured them in for the challenge. Four boys in tow they moved in for winter there was no concrete around any of the buildings so it wasn’t much fun so that was their first project over summer was to man the spades and oversized concrete mixer ,started at the house and keep going around each block. The boys all knew how to work a shovel by the end.
In those days with such small numbers in the camp everyone was just one big family when there was a job to be done it was done by all even if you were a paying customer those were also the days when every one paid with those big wads of cash what a nightmare over xmas and long weekends. The Mclellans always had a passion for horses so their was always some action going down breaking a horse in or the Hunt Club using the camp as a base for an event.
A major development in about 1992 was the Crown approached Val and Ian to see if they wanted to freehold the property so they moved ahead with that.
Each year there was a new project, Swimming Pool Just a Para pool but she is still there and it has had a real work over for the last 30 odd years, in 1975 the relocatable home park more power points more water, more sewage pipes ,more power, more trees and so on it goes. In the later days interest rates were way up there and it made it pretty hard to pay back a loan so things got quite tough for a while and after 18 years Ian and Val thought it was time to get out ,the kids all had jobs in and around Opotiki and Ian had same heavy horse trekking to do so that was it.
Glennis and I came to the Camp in 1993 after my father phoned one night to tell us they were going to sell. It was the last thing on our minds at that moment but after toying with the idea of coming home and have a change in lifestyle we came up with the idea of Leasing for two years to see if it was us and to try and raise finance.
At this stage we had one child Kelsie, and Cody and Bianca followed later. After the first couple years we found the winters pretty hard going so we decided to shut the main part of the camp down for three months which gave us time out with kids sports and time out. It also got rid of the semi permanents who ran heaters all day with the doors open.
Things have come a long way from picking up driftwood from the beach for the wood burner to heat the water get up at 6 each morning to light the fire, having to chases the chocks and pigs roaming around the camp sneaking food from tents .Now it just the dog getting the odd steak off a picnic table.
Its always been a family camp more so when in need as when cyclone Fergus hit the cape we had 30 odd people in the house for the night just dripped their tents pegged then down and walked away. Next morning a beautiful day the whole camp pitched in to help each other and I don’t think anyone went home.
When we came here water was a big problem iron content was so high that your tea went black and we had brown water stains on everything .Each year we would put aside a small about of money to explore for it try here ,try there deep to shallow then a farm gave us the use of his well but as times changed the farm became a orchard and needed the water so we had another go this time we just keep going down each day the driller would come up for another cheque with our last $1000 @ 190 metres we hit rock and up it came to within 8meters of the top. What a relief good water is. So we now have a well 212metres deep.
With 5.7 Hectares of land their has been room to try new ideas over the years. In 1975 a Relocatable Home park was established at the west end of the camp with 27 rights to occupy on a 20 x 10 meter section. Probably one of the first around and in those days ,they pad a sum of around $3000 for 10 years .
Another idea was an area set aside where people could bring their pets it has gone of really well as to some people their dog or cat is part of the family.
At the east end we’ve cleaned up an old field that was covered in lupins and sand dunes and created a motor home park in the quieter times and in the peak we have small amenities block made up by Portacom with four showers and four toilets. An outdoor kitchen area was also made up these amenities are shut down and tent sites are moved back to the main block after Waitangi weekend.
With us having 16 years at it we feel its time for us to move on we’ve met some wonderful people and had some great times but we feel its time for someone else to take it on its full potential.