I think of Rays Rest Camping Area as the last place to stop before you hit Auckland’s traffic. The contrast from the laid back Coromandel to the hustle-bustle of Auckland is pretty apparent. If you’re driving in the direction of Auckland, you’ll see Rays Rest on your right-hand side.
Driving around the Coromandel Peninsula toward Auckland city is like the calm before the storm. The calm is the gentle sea breeze on your face as you drive alongside the Firth of Thames. The storm is the motorway and the general chaos of driving a campervan into Auckland!
Finding Rays Rest Freedom Camping Area
This is one of the most popular freedom camping locations in New Zealand. So, you’ll probably see a number of campervans parked up alongside the coast. It’s almost opposite the town of Thames.
This site is very popular with New Zealanders too. So you might see a number of non-commercial campervans here, too. Self-contained campervans can stay here for a maximum of two nights.
Almost every time I have stayed at Rays Rest, I have encountered the same conditions. Sun and a gentle-medium sea breeze. The weather seems to have an effect on the people here because everyone seems to be in a friendly mood.
The site is managed by the Hauraki District Council, who welcome responsible freedom campers with open arms. The area itself is quite tidal. At high tide, you’ll hear the tiny waves lapping on the bright white sand beach. It’s just 15 meters away from where you’re parked.
Things to do at Rays Rest Freedom Camping Area
At low tide, it’ll look pretty desolate and bare but nice for a walk and perhaps a search for shellfish if you’re a fan of kaimoana.
It’s also worth bringing a fishing rod (surf caster) if you have the chance, this area has lots of potential. As long as you are aware of the rules then you’ll be sorted. Fishing is also a great way to meet people here.
There are a few picnic tables here as well, so if you don’t have a table on board, park up near one of these. There are no toilets at the site but it still gets a 5-star rating, simply because of the beautiful scenery, friendly atmosphere and the proximity to Auckland. The sunrise here isn’t half bad either! A two thumbs up for Rays Rest from me.
If you are heading into Auckland from here, leave around 10 am or 11 am to avoid the morning and afternoon traffic. It would be worth checking the real-time road alerts on the CamperMate app too, as you’ll see any delays such as accidents that may require you to adjust your route. Safe travels!