Uretiti Beach Camp

From a newly erected bench-seat on top of a knoll, which was once a heap of rubbish and is now a garden of flaxes, I traced the sand dunes that fall down to a long pale beach and the seascape that ends at Whangarei Heads.

Screwed to the bench’s backrest was a shining plaque dedicating the seat to Joe and Glenys Foster and acknowledging the seven years they have been managers of Uretiti Beach Camp, just north of Waipu.

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Uretiti Beach Camp history

Ten years ago, Glenys and her first husband, John, bought a 10-metre bus and began outfitting it.

Before it was finished, John was diagnosed with cancer and although he lived long enough to enjoy taking to the road for four months, he finally succumbed to the disease.

The couple had already rented their home and after the fallout from the loss of her husband had settled, Glenys decided to keep travelling on her own.

Not only that but she also bought another motorhome in Australia so she could travel to see her children.

“In those days, it was not common to see women driving RVs on their own,” she says. “But now we see solo women all the time.”

Uretiti had always been one of Glenys’ favourite camps. It was also a favourite of Joe Foster, who had lived on his launch for many years and recently swapped to a caravan.

At Uretiti, the two met, became friends, and then more. They were married in 2009.

Glenys’ involvement with Uretiti began to increase, starting with her helping the young couple who were looking after the camp. Then, one winter, she was asked to stand in for the managers.

“Things happened and I kind of slipped into the job of full-time manager,” she says. “Joe drove trucks for a couple of years but helped me over the summer when there could be up to 900 campers at one time. Five years ago, he joined me full-time.”

Manging the camp today

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The couple agrees it’s been a wonderful few years. “It’s tranquil here even though it can get frantically busy at times,” Glenys says.

“The people we’ve met have brought us so much enjoyment.”

There have been challenges, of course, from pulling stuck vehicles from the sand, charging up hundreds of batteries to managing unruly groups (although that hasn’t often occurred), dealing with one camper’s death, a tornado, flooding, weather bombs, a large fire, and one tsunami warning when the whole camp had to be evacuated in the middle of the night.

But in between the dramas were quiet times when the couple just enjoyed the beautiful place they were living in. Joe and Glenys have decided it is time to go and play with their own toys.

The couple has a sizeable launch, two vehicles and a nine-metre fifth-wheeler they call ‘The Foster Home’.

Armed with the goodwill of the people they’ve helped over the years, they’ll now join them on the road.

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