Nathan Foon and Shanti Probst, also known as “Camp Mom and Dad”, are the proud Camp Managers at Tatapouri Bay Oceanside Accommodation in Gisbourne.
Over a decade ago, the two first met while studying at Massey University in Wellington. After moving to Auckland, Foon embarked on his graphic design journey in the film and television industry, while Shanti worked in retail at a designer consignment store.
According to Foon, their creative backgrounds have served them well in shaping the boutique campground into something equally beautiful as it is functional. “It’s as if all of our previous work and life experience was shaping us up for this.”
Working in hospitality is almost a right of passage as a young adult. At a young age, Foon and Probst learnt the value of excellent customer service from both sets of parents. Probst shared that her mother often told her stories about helping out at her grandparent’s hotel in Germany.
Tatapouri Bay Oceanside Accommodation is steeped in rich history with no shortage of events, from being the local watering hole to being completely immersed in water. The establishment’s point of difference is its location.
“We’re at the gateway to the East Cape, isolated but still conveniently close to civilisation, making guests feel like they are on an adventure,” said Foon.
With accommodation options ranging from general camping to luxury oceanfront cabins with spa and sauna access, there is something to suit everyone’s needs and budget. All kinds of people are brought together to enjoy the magic of star-filled skies, a stunning coastline and the world’s first sunrise.
At the core of Tatapouri Bay Oceanside Accommodation is its “people first” philosophy.
“We welcome guests and the general public to join us for coffee and treats at our oceanfront café during the high season,” said Probst. “The same space hosts yoga classes, local musicians, social gatherings and markets for all kinds of vendors to share their passion. Once, we had live mural painting and a bouncy castle, which went down a treat. You never know what to expect and that keeps Tatpouri fresh and exciting.”
“Guests can also be entirely independent and keep interactions to a minimum if they feel like being a hermit. The beauty is in having options,” added Foon.
Tatapouri Bay Oceanside Accommodation guests from five years ago would not be able to recognise the campground. The property is constantly in a state of growth and improvement with new accommodation types, café additions, improved landscaping, facility upgrades, and a new website and booking system, to name a few. A current shower and toilet upgrade will be completed shortly, along with a new café space this year.
“We are constantly listening to feedback and making improvements to offer the best possible experience. Holding on tight to our vision of creating a place that is so much more than a campground but a home away from home,” said Foon. “The history of this place remains important, but so does moving forward, and guests from near and far can rest assured that they will be taken care of.”
The onset of COVID-19 launched a series of curveballs; luckily, Foon and Probst are naturally athletic people and did their best to catch whatever was thrown at them. However, at times they were struck hard.
“We value safety as much as inclusivity and were able to stay true to both of those when deciding to welcome all. A decision that was met with overwhelming support, and we can look back and be proud of. We were able to adjust to changing circumstances and help those in need during lockdowns and such,” said Probst.
As of late, Oceanside Accommodation’s guest profile is predominantly domestic and based within the Tairawhiti region. Prior to the pandemic, this comprised more Australian and other international travellers. With the recent relaxation of border restrictions, Foon and Probst look forward to hosting people from further afield, offering a memorable experience of New Zealand
In the future, there are plans for a couple more unique accommodation types, including a tiny home built by Le Workshop and a retro Zephyr Caravan.
“We want to continue to develop our space to host community workshops and events as they are so rewarding for everyone involved,” said Foon and Probst. “There are dreams of a community hall to make winter more bearable. At this point, anything is possible, and we’re always open to suggestions from others.”
The two are incredibly grateful for all their support over the years.
“From guests, family and friends for making this place what it is and sharing in our vision. It’s unbelievable what we have achieved as a big team and family. We are beyond grateful and pretty excited for what is to come.”