The trickle of people carrying boogie boards, sun umbrellas, sunscreen and sports gear, winding their way past us towards Kai Iwi Beach was constant as we set up our home for the night, a small two-person tent, at Kai Iwi Beach Holiday Park.
Located a gentle 15-minute drive from Whanganui, one of New Zealand's oldest cities, Kai Iwi Beach has a small rural settlement, also known as Mowhanau.
Featuring a handful of houses, a holiday park, a new cafe, playground and beach, it's the rugged coast that draws hundreds of out-of-towners every summer.
Walking down from our campsite on a Sunday afternoon in the blurry days between Christmas and New Year's, we hear the noise of hundreds of people spanning from the playground to the beach, and ambling around the grassy carpark area.
The rugged beach and its surroundings are packed.
Aided by the high tide, more than the population of the small town (which normally sits under 150 people) were out enjoying the surf, looked after by the Wanganui Surf Lifeguard Service.
Small but powerful waves surge in all directions as we head straight for the surf, thankful for our jandals on the hot sand as we find a spot to leave our towels among the throngs of people and quad bikes parked up on the beach.
After a refreshing swim, we head back to the campsite for icecream and cold drinks.
The freezer at the office shop is well stocked, as is the cabinet at the cafe recently opened in partnership with Sea Dogs Galley.
Selling their increasingly popular burgers at the local Whanganui River Markets and the Castlecliff Markets, Sea Dogs Galley run by Bradie Alabaster, have put fish and chips, burgers, fresh fish and nachos on the menu, along with decadent cabinet treats and coffee.
Opened on December 23 just in time for the holidays, the crew were pumping the food out the door.
Heading back to the beach for sunset, the crowds had dispersed with a handful of families and couples seeking out the sun hitting the cliffs with its golden light as it heads towards the horizon.
Composed of grey mudstone, overlain by unconsolidated coastal-marine sediments, the cliffs are slowly eroding and dangerous to get close to, yet their heights are marvellous, and when the beach is at low tide you can walk around and explore them.
After a packed beach full of families and rough surf, the next morning is a different story.
Packing up our tent, grabbing a coffee from Sea Dogs Galley, and making our way down to the beach, we're eager to see the coastline with the tide out.
With gentle swells, the tide well out past the cliffs and no one around, the scene could not have been more different than the previous day.
It's expansive, and deserted, with just the gentle lapping of the water a sharp contrast to the shouts of hundreds of people splashing in the surf.
Walking around the cliffs we discover beauty in the vastness of the coast, enjoying its desertedness for a few moments, knowing that soon the tide will come in and we will have to head back before being joined by throngs of people enjoying Kai Iwi for a classic Kiwi summer's day at the beach.