Camping it up and how to get best views for less in Aotearoa NZ

Park your motorhome or pitch your tent for uninterrupted million-dollar views in some of New Zealand’s most exclusive locations.

Park your motorhome or pitch your tent for uninterrupted million-dollar views in some of New Zealand’s most exclusive locations.

For visitors who want to take the longer, less travelled way round, New Zealand’s ever-changing landscapes – from coastal to alpine, lakeside or volcanic in just a couple of hours – provide spectacular settings along with impressive facilities for camping holidays.

It’s not just about a summer holiday because New Zealand resorts and camping grounds are typically year-round operations enjoying some of the best camping conditions right through spring, autumn and even winter. Summer’s great, of course, but expect to find lots of local campers occupying their favourite and most popular holiday spots.

The South Island has two of New Zealand’s newest camping locations. On the rugged west coast, Ross Beach Top 10 Holiday Park is New Zealand’s newest beach resort, opened in October 2017 and within sight and sound of the roaring Tasman Sea. Looking for a loftier perch? New Zealand’s highest campsite is the Geo Dome Heli Camp on a mountain slope in the Southern Alps which operates as a base for guided climbing and trekking tours over warmer months and for guided ski touring in winter.

NEW Ross Beach Top 10 Holiday Park – West Coast

Nestled on the South Island’s untamed western coast, Ross was once rich with gold, now its appeal is found in the solitude of walking the surrounding hills or the coastline. Ross Beach Top 10 Holiday Park is a great base to relax and explore the area. Pitch a tent, park a motorhome or settle into a comfy cabin in a re-purposed shipping container. The Ross area has good walking tracks and a great new mountain biking experience, the West Coast Wilderness Trail.

Travel Tips

Ross is a small town 20 minutes south of Hokitika or 1.5 hours north of Franz Josef. The camp ground is on Ross Beach Road. More

NEW Geo Dome Heli Camp - Wanaka

You can’t just drive your motorhome into this campsite as you’ll have to be on a guided alpine tour (skiing, climbing or trekking) with alpine adventure specialists First Tracks Wanaka. Their Geo Dome Heli Camp is the base for guided tours – ski, climbing and trekking. The geodesic domes – a steel-framed structure covered in insulated PVC and with a wooden floor – sit at an altitude of 1600 metres in the McKerrow Range between Lakes Wanaka and Hawea. It’s an amazing space, warm and cosy, even a bit elegant though definitely over-shadowed by the majestic mountain environment. Activities vary, according to season, from ski touring and basic mountaineering to trekking. International mountain guiding company Adventure Consultants, based in Wanaka, operate First Tracks Wanaka.

Travel Tips

Wanaka is a smaller alpine resort, an hour north of Queenstown in the Southern Lakes region, three hours from Dunedin and 3.5 hours’ on SH6 from Franz Josef on the West Coast.  More

NORTH ISLAND HOLIDAY RESORTS

Urupukapuka Island Recreation Reserve – Bay of Islands

Best visited in the shoulder season when there’s more space, less activity than in summer, this idyllic island is a conservation reserve with three camping areas - tiny Sunset Bay has just two tent sites, along with the larger Cable Bay and Urupukapuka Bay campsites. Urupukapuka Island is a pest-free sanctuary for rare New Zealand native birds such as the toutouwai (North Island robin), tīeke (North Island saddleback) and pōpokotea (whitehead) and tiny NZ dotterels nesting on the sand. Explore an early Māori settlement, and dive in on a snorkelling expedition. NOTE:  Island visitors must respect the island's precious locals and it's very important that they are careful not to introduce any living pests in their luggage when arriving from offshore.

Travel Tips

The scheduled ferry service between Paihia and Russell stops at Urupukapuka or book a water taxi. This secluded pest-free wildlife sanctuary is part of the Project Island Song restoration project, and visitors to the island can help maintain this status by respecting the Department of Conservation advice and supporting the successful rare bird reintroductions. More

Ohope Beach Top 10 Holiday Park – Bay of Plenty

With camp sites on the waterfront and a water park for the young at heart, Ohope Beach Top 10 Holiday Park is a popular family holiday destination and a safe, friendly environment in one of New Zealand’s sunniest coastal locations. There’s a café onsite and a bakery, and a seasonal fresh market to supplement the fresh fish you’ll catch. 

Travel Tips

Ohope is just east of Whakatane. The holiday park is at the far end of Harbour Road, heading towards the golf club. More

Solscape, Raglan – Hamilton Waikato

Find yourself at Solscape while overlooking the thundering corduroy waves of Raglan’s Manu Bay – a famed surfing spot on the North Island’s rugged west coast. Take to your yoga mat or the waveson one of many yoga and surfing workshops and retreats, or just relax – BYO tent, or book a belle tent or teepee where the work is done for you.

Travel Tips

Raglan is around two hours south of Auckland, and west of Hamilton on state highway 23. More 

Himatangi Beach Holiday Park - Manawatu

Experience a real Kiwi welcome beachside at Himatangi Beach Holiday Park, ‘spirit of hospitality’ winners at the 2018 Holiday Park Awards.  This little gem beside driftwood-strewn Himatangi Beach is a family-run camp ground for family adventures, with a large playground, skate park and BMX track on hand. It’s pet-friendly too so, while you can’t bring your own furry family-member with you on a New Zealand holiday, you can still make friends with the locals during stay.

Travel Tips

Himatangi is 30 minutes from Palmerston North and two hours’ drive from Wellington. More  

SOUTH ISLAND HOLIDAY RESORTS

Kaiteriteri Recreation Reserve Camp – Nelson Tasman

Get a quintessential Kiwi camping experience on absolute beachfront Kaiteriteri Recreation Reserve Camp at the entrance to Abel Tasman National Park. This Department of Conservation reserve is booked out during the peak festive season (December and January), but with planning you may nab a site outside of school holidays. Take to the water in kayaks, SUPs or the water taxis to explore the national park’s bays and walking tracks, either book-ending a multi-day trip with a camping stay or using it as a base for day trips.

Travel Tips

Kaiteriteri is a one-hour drive west from Nelson, where the closest airport is located. More

Punakaiki Beach Camp, Punakaiki – West Coast

Punakaiki is about as west coast as it gets in New Zealand, and the Punakaiki Beach Camp’s limestone cliffs add some spectacular style to a camping excursion. The camp sites are just a minute’s walk to the beach and close to the famed Pancake Rocks, and offer an excellent base for adventures - climbing, caves, surf-casting and hikes. The camp is near the start of New Zealand’s newest Great Walk, the multi-day Paparoa Track, due to open in late 2019.

Travel Tips

Punakaiki is 40 minutes north of Greymouth on State Highway 6, or 3 hours 40 minutes from Nelson, also on SH6. More

Akaroa Top 10 Holiday Park - Christchurch

Nestle into the sides of an ancient volcano and drink in the harbour views at Akaroa Top 10 Holiday Park. On-site amenities include a swimming pool, outdoor BBQ area, adventure playground, wifi and internet lounge, and separate viewing rooms for adults and children. It’s a short stroll to French-style Akaroa village and varied bars, cafés, restaurants and shops.

Travel Tips

Akaroa is on Banks Peninsula, an hour’s drive south and east from Christchurch. More

Mrs Woolly’s Campground – Glenorchy, Queenstown

Mrs Woolly’s occupies a prime spot, overlooking the spectacular Humboldt mountain range, on the doorstep of dozens of good day walks, and the start of the Routeburn Track. Hire electric bikes, grab lunch from the General Store and take off on the country roads around Glenorchy. Make an unmissable photo stop at the Glenorchy ‘red shed’, just a short walk from the camp ground, and sit back and take in the views after a day’s exploring.

Travel Tips

Mrs Woolly’s Campground is on the main road into Glenorchy, a 40-minute drive northwest from Queenstown, on a spectacular driving route following the shores of Lake Wakatipu. More

Creeksyde Queenstown Holiday Park & Motels

Right in downtown Queenstown, Creeksyde has evolved over 30 years from a simple camp ground to a park offering campervan, caravan, tent sites and motel apartments— all only a 5-minute walk from the main Queenstown action. The camp’s history of caring for the environment goes back to the 1980s and today it is one of only 15 properties internationally to have achieved the rigorous EarthCheck Master Certification for its world-class environmental initiative.

Travel Tips

Creeksyde is located in central Queenstown, and a 20-minute ride from Queenstown International Airport. More

Curio Bay Campground – The Catlins

Rare dolphins and penguins nesting beside a Jurassic fossil forest, preserved in the rocks above the pounding waves, are the main attractions at Curio Bay’s beachside campground. Off-the-beaten track in the southern South Island, the Catlins coast is a unique and unspoiled coastal environment which visitors can learn about at Tumu Toka Curioscope – a new café and visitor centre. Look for rare Hector’s dolphins swimming in Porpoise Bay, the homecoming little blue penguins at night, and you may even catch sight of a rare yellow-eyed penguin hauling itself up onto the rocks.

Travel Tips

Curio Bay is on the ‘Southern Scenic’ driving route between Dunedin (3 hours) and Invercargill (1.5 hours). More

Responsible camping campaign

Visitors to New Zealand are encouraged to travel as responsible campers by planning journeys and camping in the right places, using provided camping facilities and leaving no trace by disposing of litter correctly.

Free Wi-Fi is available at 10 visitor information centres along the country’s main camping route. To access it people must first watch a video about responsible camping.  

More information is available in the network of 80 i-SITE visitor centres across the country. 

The campaign reflects the principles of the recently launched Tiaki – Care for New Zealand initiative. 

A visiting driver safety campaign encourages drivers new to New Zealand roads to take the AA’s online Visiting Drivers Training Programme to experience what it’s like to drive on New Zealand roads. 

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