Who We Are
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.
Where We’ve Come From
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 was 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. That’s 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. Opotiki seemed attractive to 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, it wasn’t much fun. Their first project over summer was to man the spades and oversized concrete mixer. They started at the house and kept 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. The Mclellan’s always had a passion for horses so there was always some action going down.
The Crown approached Val and Ian in 1992 which was a major development. They wanted to freehold the property so they moved ahead with it.
Each year there was a new project; swimming pool, Para pool which is still there and has had a real work over for the last 30 odd years. In 1975, the relocatable home park had more power points, more water, more sewage pipes, more power, more trees and so on. 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. 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.
Following in Footsteps
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 having a change in lifestyle we decided to leasing for two years.
At this stage we had one child Kelsie; Cody and Bianca followed later. After a couple of years we found the winters pretty hard so we decided to shut the main part of the camp down for three months which gave us time out with kids.
Things have come a long way, from picking up driftwood from the beach to heat the water, up at 6 each morning to light the fire, and 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.
It’s always been a family camp. Specifically, when cyclone Fergus hit the cape, we had 30 odd people in the house for the night. Next day was beautiful, the whole camp helped each other and I don’t think anyone went home.
When arrived 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 new ways to fix it. Then, a farm gave us the use of his well. However, as times changed the farm became a orchard and needed the water. Back to the drawing board, this time we went down each day with the driller. One day, at 190 metres, we hit rock and up it came to within 8 meters from the top. Now have a well 212 metres deep.
With 5.7 hectares of land, there 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 in the area. 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 worked 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 and created a quieter motor home park and in peak season we have small amenity blocks 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.
Having 16 years at it. we feel it’s time for us to move on we’ve met some wonderful people and had some great times but we feel it’s time for someone else to take it on its full potential.