My husband and I have a lot of kids between us, so we try and make time to have the occasional day where it’s just us – grown up time is what we call it. Sometimes it’s a day at home without the kids, and sometimes we actually go away. It’s been a while since we last did this, and so in a fit of extravagance, I booked a night at Castaways Resort. Based out at Karioitahi just out of Waiuku, they offer three coastal tents and one tree tent as well as resort style accommodation, a restaurant and spa. We couldn’t get a coastal tent within a couple of months on a day which suited us, so opted for the “Totara Tent”, a permanent tent suspended off the ground between two totara trees.
Once we had successfully braved the Southern
carpark sorry, motorway (foolish of us to go south on the Friday afternoon of a long weekend) we headed off towards Waiuku and found Castaways and Karioitahi very easily. We were blown away by how beautiful the beach was and after we’d checked in, we went for a long walk. We could just pick out the coastal tents up on the hills above the beach, but they were cleverly set into the hill and they still looked very private.
Unlike the coastal tents, the Totara Tent is back in Waiuku, about 15km away. There are two transport choices – either drive back, or there are free electric bikes on offer. The road is fairly busy and it was very hot, so we decided against the bikes and after an hour or so on the beach blowing out the cobwebs, watching paragliders ride the currents and wishing we had brought our swimming togs, we headed off to our tent.
Tent is a very basic word for what we stayed in. Whilst it was canvas in parts, it was a permanent wooden structure about 1.5m off the ground, with two big old totara trees growing right through the small verandah and up one side of the tent. It is set in a patch of native bush on some farmland and the tent and outdoor bath are far enough inside the bush that it is completely private. There is a small and functional kitchen, bathroom with shower and composting toilet and a huge, luxurious and very comfortable bed. Native birds are all around so we were surrounded by tui song and cicadas chirping, but it was otherwise quiet. There’s power, thanks to the solar panels at the edge of the bush.
Dinner, wine, beer and breakfast are provided, but are of the “cook it yourself” variety. The fridge was loaded with little containers, very well labelled, and with different colour lids, on different shelves according to which meal they were. Not a lot of work required to put the meal together. Pretty soon, we were sitting on the deck enjoying the quiet.
A word to the wise – there is a stereo in the tent, which can take a USB stick or bluetooth from various devices. There is music already loaded, but after subjecting ourselves to some disco and 70’s and 80’s love songs, we were ready for a quick change! It was lovely to have music playing across our clearing when we hopped into the outdoor, suspended bath! Again, our advice would be to have a bath after dark, as the mosquitoes are fairly relentless. We had a second bath the next morning but didn’t last long.
All in all, the facilities were excellent, food was great and it was a little slice of heaven and peace out of our busy lives. Was it worth the money? Yes, and when we compared it to two other similar weekend getaways (Warm Earth in Katikati and the Ipipiri cruise around the Auckland Harbour) we thought it stacked up very well. Would we go again? Absolutely. But we’d book one of the coastal tents – we think the views across the sea and hopefully less mosquitoes would be an improvement. We’d also want to stay for two nights – we were just starting to really relax when it was time to pack up and go home. Another day would have been lovely. The children apparently didn’t miss us at all, so we may have to save our pennies and plan another small getaway.
Note that I wasn’t recompensed in any way for writing this review – I just wanted to share our lovely night away!