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.
- 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