Dannevirke - an unknown town with falls & beaches - Travelling K
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Dannevirke – an unknown town with falls & beaches

Over Easter I decided to base myself in a small town called Dannevirke. It’s enjoyable setting a slower travel pace and I’m in this for the long run so why not five nights in one place? I’d only recently heard of Dannevirke as different people mentioned how nice the campground was. The town is on the main route between Hawkes Bay and Palmerston North and one I had previously driven through without taking much notice.

The town seems to have a viking flavour… I’m still not sure why. Where did the name come from? There’s a viking ship in the children’s playground and viking shields on the town railing.

I’ll admit that there is not a whole lot to do in Dannevirke… There’s a couple of nice looking restaurants and a good size supermarket. I’ve heard about a fantasy cave but I’m guessing it’s aimed at children. I’ve ended up relaxing with one exploration to the coast, visiting Waihi Falls and Herbertville Beach.

Dannevirke Campground

It’s actually at the bottom of a park! The narrow road snakes down the hill with plenty of speed bumps. There’s a duck pond, deer and it’s just an interesting place to walk around.

The quirk is that the gate closes at 8pm for the park so no wild nights out in Dannevirke!

The campground has a large grassy oval surrounded by tall trees and there are plenty of birds in the morning.

I was only charged $8 per night for non-powered in the tent area – no extra charge for the shower. Very happy with this price.

There’s actually quite a few camping areas in the Tararua District.

Waihi Falls

It really is hidden down some narrow roads. I nearly drove past the sign for the falls down Oporae Rd. It didn’t help that the convoy of 3 had just passed a slow motorhome and I was sandwiched in the middle. After an awkward turn into the road, I drove and drove and drove, wondering if I’d missed a turn off. The road is narrow and gravel in parts and looks like it’s had plenty of land slides. Eventually there was another sign for the falls and I was surprised to see 8 other cars had already arrived.

The Waihi Falls are down a narrow path with a few viewing platforms on the way down. There is a grassy area surrounding the falls and you can walk to one side of it.

All the grass and small trees surrounding the falls were completely flattened. There had been a patch of heavy rain recently and a huge amount of water must have come over the falls… I wish I had seen it.

Herbertville Beach

Reading a brochure about the area, it mentioned the two closest beaches, Herbertville and Akitio Beach. I picked Herbertville beach because it had a campground to check out and the photos online made it look more intriguing.

It’s a longer drive than I expected. Getting stuck behind slow moving motorhomes that refused to pull over probably didn’t help. Funny that even though I’m now an RVer I still get grumpy being stuck behind one. On Google Maps it really doesn’t look that far from Dannevirke, but the drive took over an hour.

Herbertville is a tiny town with watchful neighbours. I kept driving until I found a grassy area to pull onto and walked out to the beach. It doesn’t feel set-up for visitors and felt very isolated. There is a river that snakes to the ocean with plenty of wood scattered around. Plenty of the the locals drive out onto the beach.

The campground looked nice and I still had phone reception. Readying my brochure, it said self contained motor caravans could stay on Council land and there was a motorhome with a washing line out set-up on a grassy area overlooking the beach.

Reading a sign, it sounds like there are seals by the point over winter.

I’m now curious to know what Akitio Beach is like.

It’s been a relaxing time here and I’ve enjoyed the view of the trees out my caravan window. I do enjoy exploring the quieter towns and getting a feel for the area. This is a definite advantage to the caravan lifestyle.

Have you explored the area before? Is there anything you would recommend? I’d love to hear in the comments below.

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