Rays Rest Freedom Camping Area

Driving around the Coromandel Peninsula toward Auckland city is like the calm before the storm. The calm being the the gentle sea breeze on your face as your drive with the window down alongside the First of Thames, the storm being the motorway and the general chaos of driving a campervan into Auckland. Think of Rays Rest Camping Area as the last 'port' before things get wild! Ok so being from a smaller city I may tend to build  driving in Auckland up a little, but nevertheless, the contrast from the laid back Coromandel to the hustle bustle of Auckland is pretty apparent and occurs within a distance of 84kms (Rays Rest-Auckland). If you're driving in the direction of Auckland, you'll see Rays Rest on your right hand side. Rays RestThe signs themsleves aren't that obvious, but seeing as though this is one of the most popular freedom camping locations in New Zealand, you'll no doubt see a number of self contained campervans parked up alongside the coast. This site is very popular with New Zealanders too, so you'll likely see a number of non-commercial campervans (like this bus in the picture below). Self-contained campervans can stay here for a maximum of two nights.  Almost every time I have stayed at Rays Rest, I have encountered the same conditions. Sun and a gentle-medium sea breeze. This weather seems to have an effect on the general feeling at this site and everyone seems to be in a jovial and friendly mood. The site is managed by the Hauraki District Council, who welcome responsible freedom campers with open arms. The area itself is quite tidal. At high tide you'll hear the tiny waves lapping on the bright white  beach 15 meters away from where you're parked. At low tide it'll look pretty desolate and bare but nice for a walk and perhaps a search for shellfish if you're a fan of kaimoana. It's worth bringing a fishing rod (surf caster) if you have the chance, this area is quite productive in terms of the fish available. As long as you are aware of the rules then you'll be sorted. If you have a smartphone, it's worth downloading the free NZ Fishing Rules app (the same developers that are behind CamperMate) showing you the rules and regulations for each area. Fishing is also a great way to meet people here. Beware though..Asking 'having much luck?' may result in an hour long conversation! IMG_1853 (Large) There are a few picnic tables here as well, so if you don't have a table on board park up near one of these. The tables are it in the way of facilities (there are no toilets) but this still gets a 5 star rating, simply because of the beautiful scenery, friendly atmosphere and it's proximity to Auckland without the traffic. The sunrise here isn't half bad either! A two thumbs up for Rays Rest from me. If you are heading into Auckland from here, leave around 10am-11am to avoid the morning and afternoon traffic. It would be worth checking the real-time road alerts on the CamperMate app too, as you'll see any delays such as accidents that may require you to adjust your route. Safe travels! Rays Rest [mc4wp_form]