The Totaranui Camp Experience


The bags were packed. The boats were filled to the brim, and the kids were full of excitement. It was time to set off for the biggest camping site in NZ, Totaranui (toe-ta-ra-noo-ee).  But first a day of walking, driving, boating, and swimming. The cars roared their engines and set off.

The Sea Shuttle pulled into the beach at Kaiteriteri, bringing half the ocean out behind it. Lugging massive packs, the children climbed on. They whizzed to Anchorage and dropped off the packs, before setting off for Torrent Bay for the next part of the adventure, which was walking from Torrent Bay to Cleopatra’s Pool.

Cleopatra’s pool is right in the middle of dense bush, and it takes a long time to get there. But the walk is definitely worth it, for the pool is clear, calm, cool and comes with its own natural waterslide. Groups of Year 7s were asked why they liked the experience: “I liked the waterslide because it was funny to see Ms Mac going down,” said Seth. “I liked the natural waterslide,” said Lucca. “I didn’t like it because it was freezing and it hurt on the slide,” said Nikita. At last, it was time to leave for Totaranui.

It was about another hour to the boat, but eventually the bush ended and the beach began. The Sea Shuttle roared in again. Once again, everyone got on.

After many hours of walking, the Homestead finally appeared in view. The children cheered and whooped as they climbed the steps, explored the rooms, unpacked, and climbed more steps for dinner, roast chicken.

As darkness fell, the kids played games, made bivouacs and then fell into bed and got a well-earned rest. Unfortunately for some, they were up all night talking.

When they woke up, they had breakfast, packed, and headed off for Goat Bay. As they advanced, the roar of the waves got louder and louder until it reached ear-splitting when they trekked out. Then they were faced by immense walls of water as the waves smashed onto shore. “Why did you like (or dislike) these waves?” “I liked them because they were big,” said Cody. “I didn’t like it because the water was cold, but the waves were awesome,” said Danielle. Sadly, it was now time to leave (probably because someone could’ve been swept away.)

When they got back to the Homestead, they had lunch and prepared for the next part of the day: the afternoon activities. Some of these included sand sculptures, kayaking, orienteering, photography, surf lifesaving and Kiwi Ranger Books. It was stormy in the first half of the day (courtesy of the massive waves) but hot and sunny in the afternoon, perfect for what they were about to do.

After activities, it was relaxing and free time, and then it was dinner. That night it was spaghetti bolognaise with a scrumptious dessert of banana splits with ice-cream, chocolate sauce, sprinkles, and many other things. Then, it was time for bed, for the kids needed a big sleep for the endless walk to Separation Point tomorrow…

IT WAS TIME. The moment most of the kids had probably been dreading. The exhausting, 6-hour walk to Separation Point – and back. They shouldered their heavy packs full of togs, drink bottles and lunch. Trudging forward, they started down the path, already feeling tired by the thought of it.

They passed several beaches and climbed many mountains, and after what seemed like days they finally reached Separation Point. There they found a sheer, impossibly high cliff with a steep path down to the lighthouse, which was practically a white tower with some metal bars and fixtures on the top. Group by group they went down, being infinitely careful not to dislodge any rocks that could leave them hanging by their fingertips.

As soon as they reached the ground most of them collapsed, either from fear of heights, exhaustion or the strain of thinking up new topics to talk about. Suddenly, one kid made out a seal on the rocks. “Guys! It’s a baby seal!” Most of the girls were sad to leave such a picture, but they cheered up when they remembered that when they got back, they wouldn’t have to walk anymore.

They covered more and more bush track with each step, slowly getting closer and closer to the Homestead. Native plants, trees, and animals surround them on all sides, and cicadas danced between the trees as they sang their happy song. Some of the kids’ feet have switched to automatic, and all they can do is keep the same rhythmic pace.

At long last, they reached the Homestead. The “Uhhhhhhhh” from the kids as they collapse wherever’s nearest is enough to make all the birds fly out of the trees. Bivouacs were a bit half-hearted that night, but dinner was scoffed, as was dessert. After dinner, you could hear the thud of pillows simultaneously as  heads hit them and fell asleep.

They woke up to the sound of clapping, and the teachers saying:”Clean up! Come on, pack your bags!”. But there were some pretty  impressive sleeping tales as well. “A weka walked in our bivoauc, pecked Noah on the head, then ran out!” said Nathan. “ A possum tried to climb a tree. It tried a couple of times before making it to the top. You can still see the scratch marks,” said Jayden.

After the bag pack, it was breakfast and then a couple more activities: Raft Building and Biscuiting.  They made their way down to the beach to start.

For Raft Building, kids were split into 2 teams. They then would take turns to pick an item to use for a raft, like a kayak, paddle, plank of wood, inflatable or rope. They then had 3 minutes to plan a design, and build it, but during the building time they couldn’t talk.  For Biscuiting they took turns riding a biscuit trailing behind a boat.


These experiences were most of the kids’ favourites and what they chose to write about for their recounts. Then it was lunch and then the big tidy-up, where everyone had to help out to make the Homestead absolutely spotless. There was sweeping, toilet cleaning, vacuuming, window wiping, bunk room cleaning and that was only half of it. Then, the DOC lady gave her ‘tick’ of approval and they wandered down to the beach for the final boat trip back to school. The boat pulled up, admitted them on, then sped away to the sunset.

All in all, it was a fantastic experience for the Year 7s and it is one they will never forget.

By Noah