Wentworth Valley Campground is 1.8km south of Whangamata, the access road is 5km of unsealed gravel, but you feel you are miles away from the city. New years just been, my husband and I were searching for a dog-friendly campsite to escape the usual Auckland noise and fireworks with our new rescue puppy. We came across Wentworth Valley Campground just outside of Whangamata. We booked a last-minute site for 4 nights over the new year celebration period.
Pulling up to the campsite, its a long narrow, unsealed road. At this point there are cars everywhere, we met Nicola the manager/owner of the site who couldn’t be more helpful, even though she was run off her feet! She gave us a very detailed map explaining freshwater fill stations, showers, bathrooms and back up bathrooms. Nicola also explained all the local attractions and where the best spots were. As we had booked last minute and the main campsite was full – we were in the ‘overload’ site – which is essentially a big grass paddock.
Wentworth Campground is set in around the Wentworth River and nestled in amongst miles of serene native forest, it’s peaceful surrounding really makes you feel like you have escaped the city hustle. A 3km walk from the main campsite will get you to Wentworth falls – this walk is mostly uphill on the way there, so be sure to take good walking shoes and a water bottle. It’s approx. a 1hr 10min uphill walk, the trees provide lovely shelter from the sweltering sun and fresh air from the adjacent river.
The track has been well maintained making it an easy afternoon walk but once you reach the end the last walk is downhill to the bottom of the falls which can be steep and slippery. Along the way is the history of the gold mining century, over 300 gold miners and their families called the valley home, and although the gold mining days are over the old caves are still around and the occasional relic can be found (so we heard).
Cooling down from the Summer heat on the way back is easy, as you descend back towards the campsite, the river is full of little swimming holes, the water is cold but so refreshing! The main swimming hole forks off from the track (signed) follow the narrow track and jump in, be warned though – it is cold! The kids and dogs jump in like its a local swimming pool while some of the adults can’t get out quick enough!
Once night has fallen, Wentworth Campground hosts a couple of small glow worm caves, set off on dusk so you know where you are walking, and once dark you can look down the old mining caves and spot the worms.
It’s easy to pop into Whangamata for a supply top-up, and a ‘non-camp’ lunch stop. The camp office has the usual ice bags, ice blocks and overpriced basics – but it’s what you pay handy of course. There is plenty of fresh water taps on the site to fill drink bottles and wash buckets. Handy tip: if you parked next to the river with a slow current, pop your milk and beers in the river to keep them cold! The bathrooms are long drops and the showers are cold (warm for $2) but the hosts are lovely, the location is perfect and best of all, you can take the dog!
Would highly recommend and we will definitely be returning, although I regret featuring Wentworth Campground – as I wanted to kept it a hidden secret!
Written by Courtney Maloyd