Okains Bay campground is a popular campsite for Cantabrians and tourists on Banks Peninsula. We took a weekend to go and check it out.
Christchurch to Okains Bay
We left early on Saturday morning in the height of summer and made the 1 hr 15 min trip to Okains Bay via the small town of Little River. They had their annual A & P (Agriculture nd Pastoral) show on, and as usual, it was packed. What a bustling little place Little River is! A & P show or not this place is always pumping with people stopping off on their way to and from Akaroa.
Arriving at Okains Bay
From the moment you arrive into Okains Bay, there’s a relaxed atmosphere. Perhaps it’s to do with the lack of any mobile reception once you head down the hill into the bay. You definitely feel as though you’re in holiday mode.
Once you’ve paid at the office at the entrance, you’ll be directed into the campground. For us, it was a bit of a free for all to find a spot, as this was one of their busiest periods.
After a lap, we found a car who were just leaving their spot located about a stone’s throw from the beach. As a bonus, it was close to one of the two main cooking areas.
The campground is a very family-friendly campsite, with a number of activities around to keep the kids happy.
The facilities here were really good and clean, with each cooking location fitted with around four sets of double hot plates. It can get a bit packed between 6-7.30 as families hustle to try and get cooking, so if you can try and plan to avoid those.
A downside here is that the water isn’t drinkable, so you have to boil it in advance. If you’re reading this and planning a trip to Okains Bay, take some bottled water! Otherwise, you’ll have to boil water and wait for it to cool down.
We had one of those ‘pancakes in a shake’ bottles, where you basically just add 300mls of water to it. Adding hot water simply cooked it, and we ended up with sludge! To add to the misery, the seagulls are quite quick here, stealing our bacon and eggs which were to accompany the pancakes. So, you can imagine that Sunday morning breakfast was a disaster!
Swimming and Fishing at Okains Bay
The beaches at Okains Bay are very shallow. They don’t drop off very quickly, so we felt quite safe swimming.
I also tried surfcasting from the right-hand side of the beach alongside the ‘old wharf’ track.
However, like most of the rock fishing around the Banks Peninsula, it’s pretty hit and miss. You’ll most likely be catching Rig, which I’ve always found a bit of a mission to fillet.
The estuary provides a fun place to kill a couple of hours searching for crabs under rocks with the kids.
You can also rent kayaks from the office. If it’s flat you might also like to tackle the waves and go for a bigger trip out to the heads!
Overall, the Okains Bay campground is definitely worth visiting if you’re in the area.
I was told that visiting in February is best as the weather is still nice and it’s far less crowded,. However, we still had a great experience. Definitely two thumbs up!