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“Great location but not a great camping experience”

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Russell --Orongo Bay Holiday Park
Certificate of Excellence
Montreal, Canada
Level Contributor
37 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
“Great location but not a great camping experience”
Reviewed January 8, 2013

The camp insisted on a minimum stay of 4 nights over the busy Christmas-New Year holiday period and required payment up front to secure a tent site. Their website indicated that tent sites were available in quiet locations with sea views. Those few that did have sea views were perched on narrow terraces, that are suitable only for small hiking tents, right beside the road which is the main road into Russell. We were booked for one of these but opted to change to the area away from the road.

There is a large paddock for tents and campervans in a valley. A few sites have trees for shade. At the back of this area a campfire area has been set up with a single, stinking portaloo. This area of the camp was very noisy at night. The manager emphasized that the camp was not a party camp and that noise was not tolerated after 10pm. However, despite a security guard being on the grounds each night there was considerable noise from drinking and partying that went on until 3-4am every night. Broken glass beer bottles were picked up each morning but made walking about at night hazardous.

The campground was not well-maintained. Grass was long, boundaries for each tent site were difficult to see as a result.

Showers cost NZ$1 and water was rarely warm, let alone hot. The camp had run out of water and was taking water from a nearby stream. The day we arrived there was no water. The ablution blocks were dirty and (perhaps due to lack of water) were not cleaned in the first two days we were there. The communal kitchen is tiny so be prepared for queues when you want to cook.

There is a drain running through the middle of this area that was dry when we arrived. After a night of rain it filled with water that then stagnated and became smelly in the heat. The sites either side of the drain are among the few that have trees for shade. Mosquitos were prolific at dusk.

Russell only has two campgrounds. Although the Russell holiday park is beautifully maintained and has good facilities, it was packed tight with tents and campers jammed up against each other. Russell-Orongo, by comparison, was half empty with plenty of space and privacy. It also has a lovely setting adjoining bush. At night the weka, kiwi, and morepork sang their songs and during the day weka roamed the camp. The birdlife almost made up for the appalling facilities.

We won't be staying at this campground again and I don't recommend it for any stays during the holiday period. Outside of this time, when people may be less inclined to party, it could be a good choice if you want to drift off to sleep to the sounds of the NZ bush.

Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
Helpful?
1 Thank SpidaChik
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
happycamperRussell, Owner at Russell --Orongo Bay Holiday Park, responded to this review, March 27, 2013
We are sorry our camp ground did not meet your expectations over the New Year and would love the opportunity to host you again. As we are not able to identify your booking to contact you, please get in touch with us by email if you would like to do so.
We tend to keep the grass longer in our tent field over the busy New Year, as it is subjected to hard use.
At the rear of the camping ground we have a large area for use by all campers with a natural bush look to it and which the birds which you enjoyed inhabit. The campfire with log seating around it, adjacent barbecues and BBQ seating/tables look and feel like they have been set in the bush. The 2 portaloos which we hire every New Year to supplement the campers amenities block are cleaned daily with a portaloo cleaning product and are located 23 metres from the nearest campsite.
We are sorry that you found the camp noisy over New Year. One of the reasons most holiday parks opt for a minimum stay policy over New Year is that it does limit the "party" people who are generally wanting one or two nights.. We appreciate guests reporting unreasonable noise while staying with us, as we are able to immediately deal with this and alert the security guard who is on duty over New Year. All guests are asked to be considerate of others in terms of noise levels over New Year - the rest of the year we are known for spacious sites and a tranquil camping experience with abundant birdlife.
We monitor the Park throughout the day and evening over New Year and as you identifed, found and removed the broken glass from the campfire. We also followed up with guests who had used the campfire the previous evening.
We have a range of sites with sea views. The two sites closer to the road measure 8m x 20m ( 160 sq m), and 10m x 19m ( 190 sq m), and easily take very large tents .
The sites on top of the hill have great views, easily accommodate family size tents, and are 100m to 140 m from the road. There are a couple of spots where hiking tents could be set up, however they are not identified as sites on the Park map.
The Russell peninsula does not have a council provided water supply and water is a precious resource. Over the peak season we do ration water by charging $1 for campers showers. This measure, which cost $20,000 to install, has greatly reduced water use and contributed to the Parks Enviro Gold Ranking. For the other 9 months of the year, when there is less pressure on the water supply, we offer free showers.
At no time did the camp run out of water. The stream to which you refer is our normal source of supply all year round, and is backed up by a bore. All water is treated by filtration and ultraviolet light, and is regularly tested ( and passed) by the Council.
Unfortunately a new pump controller did break down, which limited the supply of water to one of the amenities blocks and for which we apologise.
This meant there was not enough pressure in this amenities block to service 10 showers if they were all on at once and affected the ability of the gas califonts to offer a continual flow of hot water. It took 2 days to obtain a replacement and have it installed. Meanwhile the rest of the Park water supply was not affected including water to the taps in the camping areas.
Over the peak season we clean the amenities blocks 3 times per day and we can assure you that this was the case during your stay.
We look forward to your contacting us so that we can offer you another camping experience at a less busy time of year.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Leeton
Level Contributor
218 reviews
56 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 69 helpful votes
Reviewed December 19, 2012 via mobile

Russell is stunning beyond stunning! I want to live there! The park was brilliant value, rooms immaculately clean, tons of bird life, very Eco friendly, lots of interesting fellow travelers to meet. Would definitely stay again but I would prefer a lodge room with a kitchenette and a few more power points for recharging phones Etc but apart from that can't fault the place! Thanks for an awesome stay - will definitely return

  • Stayed December 2012
    • Value
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    • Rooms
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Helpful?
Thank BooandGinger
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Auckland, New Zealand
Level Contributor
173 reviews
56 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 86 helpful votes
Reviewed April 10, 2012

We enjoyed our tenting holiday over New Year. We survived the exciting thunderstorm. This campground has character and is nicely nestled in a sheltered valley. Our son loved the swimming pool and the owners are really friendly and eager to please. They had taken care to book a security guard over the busy period and he was very scarce the night we were kept awake by some awfully noisy fellow campers...but the apologies by the owners the next day meant a lot - and the guard was very present form then on! There is a local shuttle driver if you want to go into town and have a few drinks. We found the kitten facilities limited especially in poor weather and there is no games room or dining room - (except in off season when the lodge room isn't exclusive to cabin visitors) but we believe the owners will add more facilities over time. The test is - would we go back - and yes we would.

  • Stayed January 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank travellingbuzz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Auckland Region, New Zealand
Level Contributor
51 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
Reviewed January 10, 2012

The family stayed just after New Year. It’s a few km south of Russell itself but still a fairly handy location. While it is located some distance from the beach, there is a really nice boarded walkway through a mangrove swamp nearby :-)

The rooms were basic but clean and had everything you need. There is a good swimming pool and kid’s playground, and the usual campground bathroom arrangements. There is a coin/token operated laundry but when we were there very few of the machines were actually working which slowed things down.

When we were there it was very hot which meant getting comfortable at night was more difficult. The issue was that having the windows open to cool off at night meant letting in the mosquitoes and we received lots of bites. Other rooms did have netting on the windows but this seemed to be missing from Room 6!.

Overall, the Orongo Bay Holiday Park ticked the boxes, and provided a good base from which to explore the region.

  • Stayed January 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank 10centcoin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
14 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
Reviewed January 5, 2011

The campsites are really close together, so I would suggest booking two sites to get a bit more space. It is also a lot further from the beach then it appears from the photo on the website, which is not a big deal just a bit misleading. Overall for a campsite, it is good value for money and bbq, kitchen and bathroom facilities are adequate and staff are relaxed and friendly.

  • Stayed January 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Kiwi_Nix
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Russell --Orongo Bay Holiday Park

Property: Russell --Orongo Bay Holiday Park
Address: 5960 Russell Whakapara Road, Russell 0272, New Zealand
Location: New Zealand > North Island > Northland Region > Bay of Islands > Russell
Amenities:
Free Parking Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 13 Specialty Lodging in Russell
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:4 star — Russell --Orongo Bay Holiday Park 4*
Number of rooms: 21
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
One of the few places in New Zealand where you can have close encounters with kiwi and weka in their natural environment. Affordable accommodation options in a picturesque setting. From privately situated fully self contained bungalows through to cabins for families and couples, the accommodation at this award winning Holiday Park features decks to make the most of the relaxed indoor/outdoor living opportunities of a sunny climate. Choose your own spacious powered or unpowered camp site and enjoy facilities which include a swimming pool, playground, outdoor games, fish smokehouse, BBQ areas, campfire, a free information and cruise/tour booking service and free boat parking. An enviro gold and four star Holiday Park and a central base from which you can explore Russell and the Bay of Islands. Adjacent to the Russell walkway and the Bay of Islands Full Circle Day Walk. Conveniently located to the Cape Brett Track, Te Araroa and the Kawakawa/Kaikohe cycle trail. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Russell --Orongo Bay Holiday Park New Zealand - Bay Of Islands

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