Cabins, campsites and a taste of adventure are on offer at Waimeha Camping Village near Ngawi.

“I always wanted to have a camping ground, it goes back to how much I enjoyed camping as a child,” says John Priest, owner of Ngawi’s new private camping ground.

Originally a farmer, John is the third generation of his family to live on this remote, beautiful stretch of coast. His grandfather bought and farmed Whangamona in the late 1920s; his father and uncle brought Kawakawa in 1971. Most of the farmland has since been sold, leaving John with 42 hectares edging Palliser Bay.

John and his partner, Sissy Pickering, both enjoy people’s company and are natural hosts. They live on site, and opening up the camping village is as much about running a people-focused business as it is about making the most of their land. John has been a familiar sight at fairs and events in the region, cooking whitebait, cray fish and paua delicacies from his carbecue – a barbecue within a 1940s Armstrong Siddeley.

Getting the camp up and running has already been a mammoth team effort by John, his family, friends, support crew Kara McKelvey and Melanie Barthe, and a team of Woofers and tradies. John has special praise for Sissy, who not only teaches at Pirinoa School, but also runs Ngawi gift and craft shop, Sea Trader, over summer holidays and weekends.

“She’s been great – she really helps me stick to the deadlines,” he says.

Care has been taken to ensure each of the four- to-six person cabins are angled for sweeping views over the bay. Inside, the cabins are clean and comfortable, well-insulated for winter but with windows designed to catch the breeze on a hot summer’s day. Each has cooking facilities, table and chairs and a deck.

Camping sites, including ten powered sites for caravans and motorhomes, and the cabins, are served by a block housing the communal kitchen, laundry and bathrooms. There’s also a spacious chill-out room where guest can gather around the fire, play a game of pool or watch TV. Vintage furniture, historic photos and artefacts, including a dinghy hung from the ceiling, add to the feeling of a homely bach. A barbecue area and playground add to the site.

Keen that guests experience everything that the coast has to offer, John also runs Waimeha Adventures from the camp. Kayaking, surfcasting, hired mountain bikes, and boat trips around Palliser Bay are all available for an extra fee. The stand-out adventure is probably the chance to go cray-fishing in a boat launched by trailer into the surf at Ngawi.

“Guests would be able to set the craypot the day before, pull up the pots the next day, and hopefully cook their own cray sh for dinner.”

Waimeha Camping Village, 2805 Cape Palliser Road, Ngawi, Cape Palliser, 5772 Ph: 027 566 4596. waimehacamping.co.nz