For the Cloverlea Crusaders, the self-titled name of a group of friends from the Palmerston North suburb, Urenui Beach Camp ticks all the boxes.

The northern Taranaki spot allows them to go kayak fishing, has a family atmosphere, is safe for kids, there’s a beach, a river, a shop, and a playground.

The group of 18 have been going there for the last three years and all say the key to a good camping experience is the company.

Each camping trip, the friend group of nearly 15 years get custom shirts made with their names on them.

It can get confusing with three Jasons, so there’s Big Jase, Little Jase, and just Jase.

“We were looking for somewhere to go and one of the group grew up in Taranaki and suggested up here, so we thought we’d give it a whirl, and it’s mint,” camper Jason, “Little Jase”, Spearpoint said.

“Everyone works well together, we have our tents all separate and then a big communal area,” wife Lisa added.

That communal area features four gazebos, two barbecues, a gas cooktop, a full kitchen fridge, 18 camping chairs, tables, and personalised Cloverlea Crusaders signs.

“From Temu,” someone proudly pipes up.

The Urenui Beach Camp is like a small village – with 163 sites, it can house roughly 500 people when fully booked.

It’s a big enough population to warrant the Puke Ariki mobile library making a visit on Tuesday afternoon.

On a busy day it’s packed with sea-soaked beach goers and kids that ride up and down the paths on their bikes and scooters.

The hum of campervans and caravans coming and going is constant.

The area also has dozens of baches, one of which features a chalk board inviting campers to challenge the bach owners to a friendly game of cricket.

This year, the Cloverlea group are staying for eight nights.

The weather forecast looked to be fine for the rest of their stay, but they weren’t concerned if it rained.

They’d pop in to New Plymouth, just a half hour’s drive away, or try out the Urenui Pub which has just reopened with new owners.

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