Camping has long been a traditional holiday activity for Kiwis who love to pitch a tent, cook sausages on the barbeque and get back to nature - it is also one of the prime ways to experience the lakes, beaches and pure beauty of New Zealand countryside.
Now, for those who want a camping lifestyle with extra comfort, there’s growing demand and opportunities to experience a softer option - ‘glamping’ (derived from glamorous camping) is an international travel phenomenon and New Zealand offers some of the world’s best locations.
The art of luxurious camping is taking up residence in New Zealand with various destinations creating a harmonious balance between home-comfort, privacy and experiencing unrestrained wilderness.
Travellers can now say goodbye to packing the car and putting up a tent and hello to sleeping beneath a starry night-sky and waking to the dawn chorus of native bird song without having to lift a finger.
Minaret Station, Lake Wanaka
Minaret Station, the first luxury tented lodge in New Zealand, has one of the most opulent camping experiences on offer anywhere. At the head of a glacial valley in the heart of the majestic Southern Alps - and only accessible by helicopter - Minaret Station offers an unrivalled experience in a remote alpine environment.
The mountain landscape surrounding Minaret Station may be rugged, but the accommodation is anything but. At the Minaret campsite, guests are housed under comfortable heated canvas tents complete with wall-to-wall sheepskin carpet and an en-suite bathroom. There’s even a hot-tub on the private deck for an evening’s relaxation beneath the clear twinkling southern sky.
Other facilities include the ‘Mountain Kitchen’ with its open fire and comfy armchairs where guests can enjoy a book from the well-stocked library before tucking into a meal created by a first class chef. Private guides will help visitors explore the hiking trails and high-country farm experiences while, just a short heli flight away, the neighbouring regions of Fiordland, West Coast and Southland offer a multitude of active outdoor pursuits and spectacular sightseeing opportunities.
Canopy Camping Escapes - multiple regions
Inspired by the growing popularity of glamping around the world, Liz Henderson and Sonia Minnaar launched Canopy Camping Escapes in New Zealand in 2012. Canopy Camping has several glamping sites located in easily accessible, unspoilt areas and is working with landowners to provide a network of secluded spots, on private land throughout the country.
Kawakawa Station - in the Wairarapa wine region of the North Island - was the first Canopy Campsite. The 4,000-acre working sheep station has two safari-style luxury tents complete with outdoor kitchen and a camp bathroom.
Nature is never far away when glamping and the Cape Palliser seal colony, Pinnacles walk and the Kawakawa Station walk - the North Island’s southern-most farm walk offering spectacular views of Cook Strait - are just some of the nearby activities.
Other Canopy Camping sites include the romantic, hobbitesque Underhill Valley Earth in the Waikato region and near Waitomo Caves and The Hobbiton Movie Set. Hurunui Jacks, on the wild South Island West Coast, is set on 30 acres of rural land, surrounded by a rainbow-trout filled lake, lush forest and the songs of native New Zealand birds. This glamping site is not far from the historic gold-mining town of Hokitika and the West Coast Wilderness cycle trail.
Canopy Camping Escapes
Poronui Safari Camp, Taupo
Over the years Poronui Station, nestled in Taharua valley near Taupo in the central North Island, has transformed from a simple fishing camp favoured by locals to one of the world’s premier wilderness lodges. Among the accommodation types to choose from at the backcountry property, Poronui Safari Camp is closest to nature - sitting on the banks of the Mohaka River, accessed cross country by 4WD or on horseback.
The campsite is fully self-contained and meals can be self-catered, catered on site or delivered from the lodge kitchen. At night, guests sleeping in the rustic timber and canvas campsite are serenaded by the rhythm of the Mohaka River - an angler's paradise that influential Forbes magazine has described as one of the top 10 fly fishing lodges in the world.
Poronui is heaven on earth for those who want to hunt, hike, horse trek, fish, explore or simply relax in one of New Zealand’s best wilderness spots.
Poronui Safari Camp, Taupo
Pagoda Lodge Kerikeri, Bay of Islands
Luxury meets romance meets nature at Pagoda Lodge in northern New Zealand’s beautiful Bay of Islands. In the historic town of Kerikeri, Pagoda Lodge has its own fascinating history and story to tell.
The Chinese-inspired architecture of the lodge surrounded by lush gardens is credited with inspiring many writers and artists. Guests at Pagoda can choose to stay in either the main lodge or one of several independent accommodation options, including a converted boatshed, steamboat cabin, gypsy caravan or enjoy a romantic getway-for-two glamping in a safari tent mounted on a deck with garden and river views.
A larger safari tent, comprised of three rooms plus a deck patio, provides space for friends and families travelling together. The calm river filled with swimming holes and the colourful gardens bursting with colour offer the perfect place to reflect. Those looking for a more active adventure can enjoy a leisurely kayak or embark on sections of the Te Araroa Trail - New Zealand’s longest walking trail - which passes by the lodge.
Kerikeri is the largest town in the Bay of Islands and offers a gateway to exploring an area filled with rich Maori culture and history, plentiful fishing, white sand beaches and abundant marine wildlife.
Solscape - Raglan, Waikato
Nature inspired tipis at Solscape - located in the hills above the surfing mecca of Raglan in the Waikato region - offer a more down-to-earth version of ‘glamping’. The aim of Solscape Retreat is to inspire visitors to lead a more ecologically conscious, sustainable life.
Each of Solscapes four tipis are set in native bush with optimum privacy. Floors consist of poured earth or natural timber and have traditional smoke flaps that open for a night-time view of the stars. Tipis are equipped with futon beds, linen and blankets and located a short walk from the main accommodation area.
In addition to a relaxing and rejuvenating holiday experience, Solscape offers surf lessons on Raglan’s famed beaches, made famous in the 1966 movie The Endless Summer. Solscape also encompasses a Progressive Learning Centre for locals and travellers who want to learn more about sustainability, holistic well-being and permaculture.
Wildernest takes glamping to another level with a selection of private holiday options using New Zealand’s great outdoors to set the stage. Wildernest can install and set up their large bell-tents in unique and inspiring locations for luxury holiday experiences that include everything from arranging travel, to food and personal chef, luxury fittings, and pamper suite.
‘Glamping villages’ created for special events, such as weddings or festivals like WOMAD and Rhythm & Vines, are also part of Wildernest’s portfolio.