Freedom Camping in Caravan & Exploring Cape Kidnappers | Hawkes Bay - Travelling K
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Freedom Camping in Caravan & Exploring Cape Kidnappers | Hawkes Bay

I recently went on a short trip with the caravan to explore Cape Kidnappers in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. Cape Kidnappers is known for it's nesting gannet birds and there were plenty! The freedom camping spot was perfect - right by the water and I was able to watch a spectacular sunset.

Freedom Camping Spot

I stayed at a freedom camping that is on the way to Cape Kidnappers called Clifton Road Reserve - right by the ocean with a pebble bay.

View from Freedom Camping Spot

I arrived on a very windy Friday and found a spot at the front on the grass. That night, there was a stunning sunset with intense colours. One of the reasons I love caravan life is that you are more aware of nature and it's changes. I've never seen so many sunrises and sunsets since embarking on this lifestyle. I eventually went to sleep with the caravan rocking from the wind, but awoke to stillness.

This camping spot looks like a popular one on the weekends. Cluster of vehicles with camping chairs out. I've since heard people get territorial with their spot on this reserve... which doesn't really seem fair. Luckily the spot I picked seemed argument free.

Tips for this freedom camping spot:

  • 2 nights max stay
  • Parking on grass
  • Large space
  • Nice toilets
  • There's a place to fill up with water
  • Donations box by toilet

Gannet Colony at Cape Kidnappers

How to get there

Cape Kidnappers is at the bottom of the Hawke's Bay. Drive towards Clifton, then the road finishes at a campground. There is plenty of parking and a toilet.

You have the option of pre-booking a tour, going on the tractor, driving your own 4x4 vehicle or walking.

I walked and found it took me just under 5 hours return. It feels like a surprisingly long walk - particularly walking back. A fisherman on a 4x4 quad bike offered a lift for the last half and hour, which I really appreciated.

The tractor tour looked like an easy option. It takes you to the bottom of the hill where you then walk up to see the gannet colony.

One 4x4 car became stuck in the muddy sand and was firmly trapped for a decent length of time. The quad bikes and motorbikes had an easier time.

Gannet Colony

The birds were really interesting to watch. Plenty of movement and noise with some entertainingly ungainly landings. You'll walk past a smaller colony on the rocks, then walk up the hill to stand right next to another colony overlooking the ocean. If you look towards the point, you'll see yet another colony on the land below.

Time your visit with the nesting season - go between early November and late February. I went at the start of November and there were only a couple of cute chicks.

Tips for the Cape Kidnappers Walking Track:

  • Visit between early November and late February to see the birds
  • 5 hr return
  • Start at least 3 hours after high tide
  • Start walking back no later than 1 hour 30 minutes after low tide
  • Flat track along beach until the last section which is uphill
  • There is a toilet when you start up the hill

Learn more about the walk on the DoC website here.

Do you know of an interesting walk in New Zealand? I'd love to know in the comments below.

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