REVIEW: While my husband and I weren’t brave enough to take the kids away overnight to a beach campground this summer, we thought we could at least survive a day at the beach.

But to be honest, a day at the beach with kids probably requires just as much prep and just as much gear.

Lucky for us, close to home on the Taranaki coastline sits the perfect family beach.

At just 50 minutes south of New Plymouth, Opunake Beach is far enough to feel like a holiday and a decent trip away, but close enough to pull the pin if the proverbial hits the fan.

A novelty of Opunake Beach is that you can drive on and set up on the sand.

This sounded great, in theory, as my husband had bought an awning that attached to the back of our SUV.

The plan was to set up under it, so we had great shade for the kids. However, we had never opened it before this day.

Well, that was a mistake, because the awning required as much faff setting up as a complicated tent. And just as we went to attach it to the car, a gust of wind came and sent it rolling down the beach.

I had to break out into an all-out sprint to catch it, which my son thought was hilarious. So at least he was having a good time.

We gave up on the awning idea and just set up a small pop-up tent shade with a picnic blanket.

Just across the beach we could see a family set up with a side awning off their ute and comfortably relaxed under it on camping chairs. It was the dream and particularly hard to look at.

Aside from the beach, Opunake township also has a lot on offer too.

There are cafes, art galleries, quirky shops, and a range of places to eat.

We popped into town to grab some fish and chips and brought it back to eat.

As soon as we finished, perhaps even while he still had the remnants of a tomato sauce-dipped chip in his mouth, my 3-year-old wanted an ice cream.

So while I stayed sun-baking and watching the waves with the baby trying to stop her from eating sand, he was able to pop to the campground shop with my husband and grab a chocolate Trumpet.

All in all, it was a successful family day out, and we’ve learnt a lot for next time.

If you’re looking for holiday vibes without committing to an overnight stay, or even looking for a safe camping holiday for young kids, Opunake is where it’s at.