A Weekend At Okains Bay Campground (Banks Peninula)

This summer in New Zealand we've experienced pretty random weather. Here in Christchurch we've seen only a couple of 30+ degree days, the last on Thursday was followed by a big southerly chill that brought the temperature down to about 12 degrees that night. Regardless of the weather, the Okains Bay campground is a popular campsite for Cantabrians and tourists alike. Having explored a number of bays around the Banks Peninsula, I thought it was about time to check this campground out. We left early on Saturday morning and made the 1 hour and a quarter cruise passing the small town of Little River who had their annual A & P show on, as normal it was packed. What a bustling little place Little River is, A & P show or not this place is always pumping with people stopping off on their way to/from Akaroa. From the moment you arrive into Okains Bay there's a relaxed atmosphere, perhaps it's to do with the no cell phone reception once you head down the hill into the bay, but you definitely feel as though you're in holiday mode. It's priced reasonably at $12 per adult/night, 5-15 years is $6 and under 5's are free. It's a very family friendly campsite, with a number of attractions and activities to keep the kids happy. Okains Bay Jungle Gym Once you've paid at the office at the entrance, you'll be directed into the campground then it's a bit of a free for all to find a spot. At the moment we're told it's the busiest its ever been so finding a place might be tricky. After a lap we found a car who were just leaving their spot located about a stones throw from the beach and nearby one of the two main cooking areas. The facilities here were really good and clean, with each cooking location fitted with around four sets of double hot plates. It can get a bit packed between 6-7.30 as families hustle to try and get cooking, so if you can try and plan to avoid those. The downside was that the water isn't drinkable and must be boiled in advance, so bring over some bottled water. We didn't know this and ended up having to boil water and wait for it to be cooled down before we could drink it. On another occasion we had one of those 'pancakes in a shake' bottles where you basically just add 300mls of water to it. Adding hot water simply cooked it and we ended up with (chocolate chip) sludge. To add to that, the seagulls are quite quick here and ended up stealing our bacon and eggs which were to accompany the pancakes. The Sunday morning breakfast was a disaster! Okains Bay The beach below is awesome and very safe for swimming given that it's very shallow and doesn't drop off very quickly. Okains Bay Beach I tried surfcasting from the right hand side of the beach alongside the 'old wharf' track however like most of the rock fishing around the Banks Peninsula, it's pretty hit and miss and you'll most likely be catching Rig, which I've always found a bit of a mission to fillet. The estuary provides a fun place to kill a couple of hours searching for crabs under rocks with the kids. You can also rent kayaks from the office for $20/half day (single) or $30/half day (double). If it's flat and you're game you might also like to tackle the waves and go for a bigger trip out to the heads. Overall, the Okains Bay campground is definitely worth visiting if you're in the area and looking to relax in a place that's value for money. I was told that visiting in February is best as the weather is still nice and it's far less crowded, however we still had a great experience. Definitely the two thumbs up!