A simple family holiday to Clarks Beach is much improved when you travel in a comfortable glamavan, finds Alexia Santamaria
In our family, holidays often mean trying to see as much of our destination as possible - this includes trying to cram as many local activities in as we can. But there's something to be said for doing not much at all and holidaying like we used to when we were kids in the 70s.
Given the chance to road test the new Oxford 65 caravan from Motek we jumped at the opportunity to relive our lost youth and take our kids on a simple holiday. Well, almost. The theory was the same, but the equipment certainly wasn't as basic. If Glamping is glamorous camping, this was certainly Glamavaning.
Forget old-style formica tables and velour upholstery, this baby was super-chic and minimalist. Think neutral suede and brown tones for the interior, flat screen TV, built-in sound system, double bedroom, a shower as nice as our one at home and a pretty toilet and basin area. The fridge, oven and microwave were all ultra-modern as well.
We towed this mini-apartment on wheels down to Clarks Beach, an appropriate place for an old-school holiday. It was just as we remembered, aside from revamped toilet and kitchen blocks and some newer looking cabins. This was the real deal, complete with the original games and TV room from when it opened 25 years ago (only difference being a couple of internet terminals on the desk in the corner).
It seemed appropriate to have fish and chips on the beach so we headed for Clarks Beach Takeaways. But even here we found modern twists to our retro experience. There were mozzarella risotto balls, bean wraps and grilled fish on couscous on the menu alongside the usual suspects. We went traditional and weren't disappointed. Good light batter, very fresh fish and nice chips. Perfect. And lovely home-made fudge.
The next morning we got up late and went down to the beach. Clarks is great for young kids as the water is gentle and there is a good playground. The beach is shelly and quite pretty at high tide but fairly mangrovey when it's out, although great for collecting scallops a low tide.. The children fossicked around for shells and we walked down the beach, noting with joy some of the original baches still standing.
After lunch we took the owner of the park up on his offer to go and check the flounder nets - a world of fun for our two little boys who enjoyed going out in the dinghy; and a great lesson to us that happiness can be as simple as a row boat ride to check some nets. There was only one lonesome flounder in our catch and the owner very kindly said we could have it for dinner. I think our 2-yearold finally made the connection with "Flippy" the cute flounder and panfried flippy on his plate! We ended the night with board games and telling stories, not a mobile phone game or tablet in sight.
The next morning we set off home. We had both forgotten the ultimate joy of not having to pack everything away for a 10am check out like you do in a motel. It was just a matter of securing everything down and driving away - so much less stressful.
We stopped at the tiny Vintage Cafe in Waiau Pa which couldn't have completed our "new old school" experience more perfectly. Everything was vintage: plates, crockery, even old newspapers on the walls, but the food was modern and tasty. There were lots of old favourites in the very good home baking department but it was forward-thinking enough to cater to the gluten-free needs of our modern child too.
Despite the lure of the local attractions we were very happy to have kept things simple. Spending time away from electronic distractions and shopping malls did us all a world of good. Our super flash wheels enabled us to go back to a traditional-style holiday, without the traditional inconveniences.
Clarks Beach Takeaways
Seaway Road, Clarks Beach, 09 232 1531
581 Waiau Pa Road, Waiau Pa
Alexia was a guest of Oxford Caravans and Clarks Beach Holiday Park