If you are one of the lucky families about to holiday in New Zealand, or even if you already live here, camping is the ultimate way to see the country with your family. Here in New Zealand we are lucky to have hundreds of camping and holiday parks, public camping areas and even some freedom camping locations! These options take you from remote conservation areas in the heart of native bush, to coastal holiday parks.
You may end up staying on private farmland, in a busy town, or beside a remote lake or river. Either way, you will find camping is one of the best value ways to see our beautiful country. Here is an overview of what you should expect from your different camping options.
Holiday Parks and Campgrounds
New Zealand holiday parks and campgrounds are well-equipped for families, with some providing extra facilities for children such as swimming pools and playgrounds. Many are located in scenic locations, including next to beaches, and others are very close to towns and local activities and attractions.
Most camping sites provide both powered and non-powered sites for camping, as well as cabins for those without a tent or van. All holiday parks have toilets, showers, and laundry and kitchen facilities. Kitchens usually have a microwave, and many parks offer use of barbecues. Some are Qualmark-rated, which is a rating standard based on New Zealand tourism’s quality assurance organisation. And to keep up with modern technology, you will also find many parks offering internet services with some even offering Wi-Fi.
Prices for can range anywhere from $15 per adult for a camp site to $250 for a cabin that sleeps 6 people. Prices will vary during the year, depending on school holiday dates and peak summer times.
Department of Conservation Campgrounds
The Department of Conservation (DOC) manages camping on areas of conservation land throughout New Zealand. From forest settings, lake shores and sandy beaches, you will find some incredible camping sites to stay with your family. DOC has different categories of camping that they offer:
Serviced Campsites have a wide range of facilities and services e.g. flush toilets, tap water, kitchen/cooking bench, and hot showers. Laundry facilities, barbecues, fireplaces, cookers and picnic tables may also be available at some sites. Scenic campsites are in a high use, coastal location and have a limited range of facilities and services. They have toilets, tap water supply and vehicle or boat access. Wood barbeques and fireplaces, cold showers, picnic tables, a cooking shelter and rubbish bins may be provided.
Standard campsites have a more limited range of facilities and services. Toilets (usually composting or pit variety) water supply (tap, stream, or lake) and vehicle or boat access. Wood barbeques and fireplaces, showers (cold), picnic tables, a cooking shelter and rubbish bins may be provided.
DOC charges fees on the basis of the category of campsite, and fees can range from $6 to $15 per adult per night. Bookings are required for all Serviced campsites and for some Scenic and Standard campsites in peak season (usually 1 October - 30 April). Most bookings can be made online or at a DOC visitor centre.
Freedom camping means to camp (other than at a camping ground) within 200m of a formed road, sea or harbour, or a 'Great Walks' track. In New Zealand freedom camping is restricted, and while it has been a time honoured way of experiencing New Zealand’s outdoors, it is prohibited in many areas. To avoid hefty fines, we recommend you read New Zealand freedom camping information online before your decide to choose this option.
If you are planning on camping in New Zealand during summer, it will pay to book ahead for most camping grounds. Peak season is usually between November and March, with Holiday parks and camp grounds often being booked out during December and January.
Whenever you choose to come, don’t forget to be prepared for all weather and conditions. See the Kiwi Camping website to view the amazing range of products you can buy from camping retailers across New Zealand.