A few weeks ago, my friend Renee and I packed up our camping gear (i.e. tossed it in the back of her car) and headed out for a weekend of camping at Terra Nova National Park.
We had booked one of the parkâ€™s Ã”asis pods, the parkâ€™s newest camping offer for families or young couples. And BFFs who don’t mind sleeping head-to-toe, obviously.
The Ã”asis kinda rides on the coattails of the glamping trend, although I wouldnâ€™t really call it glamping. Something in between. Camping for the slightly wimpy? Itâ€™s shaped like a water droplet on legs and has a tiny interior of just six square metres with a sofa bed for two and a hammock loft. The entire thing is encased in windows overlooking the endless pine forest of Terra Nova.
It looks like a scenic spaceship.
Although itâ€™s small, the Ã”asis makes EXCELLENT use of its space. The sofa bed folds into a table, there are storage shelves, and lots of hooks to hang things. The windows push out, and you can roll down the shades and clip them to the bottom of the window if you donâ€™t want Mother Nature to see your bare bottom as youâ€™re preparing for bed. (I suggest not doing this. Itâ€™s kinda liberating actually.)
This was my first time in a decade camping at Terra Nova National Park, despite it being just a three-hour drive from St. Johnâ€™s. We stayed at Newman Sound, where there are just two Ã”asis pods set amongst dozens of the oTENTik sites (a cross between a cabin and a tent).
I was incredibly impressed with these grounds. There were spigots for fresh water everywhere; the bathrooms were immaculately clean and well-heated, with lovely showers. Iâ€™ve stayed in worse hostels. Nay, Iâ€™ve stayed in worse Airbnbs, including my most recent experience in Boston that was so bad we ended up getting 50% off our stay.
The Ã”asis sites come with two chairs, a picnic table, and a HUGE barbecue. Seriously. They have everything you need, including cooking utensils. I had brought a steak to toss on the grill but it rained all throughout the evening of our second day, so we stayed inside reading books and eating cheese platters and napping as the rain splattered against our windowed ceiling. Heavenly.
The grounds also have a laundromat and a small shop during the busy summer months. Nearby are communal fire pits, but youâ€™ll have to purchase firewood from the park or in one of the nearby towns within the park (otherwise you may inadvertently introduce some kind of shitty new species that will wipe out Newfoundland).
It was quiet as heck when Renee and I camped here. There were a few families scattered around the loops, and although we had visions of making new besties around a campfire, alas, we were confined to our little corner of the campground in solidarity. We stayed up late playing Skip-Bo and Monopoly and drinking whiskey and wine.
We also went hiking the next morning, around the campground trail and then onto the Coastal Trail — an easy but long route, about 9.5 kilometers return. We passed abandoned foundations of old homes, a waterfall, beaches, and long discarded pieces of ship machinery. Oh, and a rabbit. That was exciting.
- The hammock holds only up to 150lbs, meaning itâ€™s for kids. Renee and I just barely made the cut, so we spent a bit of time up there. Nervously. The thing groaned under my weight like an old man lifting himself out of a chair.
- If youâ€™re coming outside the months of July and August, bring lots of warm clothes and layers. We were there in mid-June and it was COLD. The Ã”asis is definitely warmer than a tent, and itâ€™s insulated, but not all of them are heated or have electricity.
- Keep your food stored away, preferably in your car. Itâ€™s a national park and there are indeed bears.
- Leave nothing behind. There are recycling bins and garbage pins all over the place; thereâ€™s no excuse to be a slob.
- Donâ€™t forget to pick up your park pass, even if you show up later in the evening. Youâ€™ll get ticketed if park security sees you without one.
- The Newman Sound campground is very family-friendly; a park ranger told us that Malady Head has a bit more action. So if you’re camping with friends, the latter is probably a better option for you.
- Some of these sites are pet-friendly!
The Ã”asis costs $120 + tax per night, not including the park pass (price depends on the number of people). This isnâ€™t cheap, at all, unless you’re travelling with your family. I probably wouldnâ€™t do it again just because of the price point, but Iâ€™m glad I did it for the experience. The next time I camp out here I’d like to do it in an oTENTik with a few friends.