Five years ago, was ‘glamping’ even a word? In recent times, the idea of ‘glamourous camping’ has captured all our imaginations, and is one of the most popular travel trends. There can be few places in the world more suited to glamping than New Zealand. With our sparse population, we have endless hidden corners to set up luxury canvas tents, and fit them out with comfy beds and Egyptian cotton sheets. Bring your own gourmet treats and fine wine, and enjoy the view!
Glamping is a terrific accommodation option to combine with car rental. You can experience the real New Zealand, rubbing shoulders with our natural wonders, without having to fork out for a tiny tent and squishy airbed that you have to dismantle each time you move on.
Liz Henderson is the co-founder of Canopy Camping, a business that partners with land owners in beautiful spots to create a network of glamping sites, which you can book through their website.
Liz explains the rising popularity of glamping, “I think the main appeal is that with the crazy, busy lifestyles we all lead, people crave respite. Glamping deals to this perfectly - the minute you arrive at a site you are forced to slow down - there's no electricity, no screens, in many cases, no mobile phone reception. You can reconnect with each other - without the usual distractions of life. How often to you get the opportunity to sleep in a comfortable bed with top quality linen, in the middle of nowhere, with nothing but canvas separating you from the natural world?”
Canopy Camping has sites from the Tutuakaka Coast in Northland, to Banks Peninsula in Canterbury, and plenty in between. “We've built our business by hunting out the special places and people in New Zealand and 'curating' a collection of unique, out-of-the-ordinary places that we can hand on heart say will be amazing places for guests to stay. Each site is personally selected by us based on standards we've set. We ourselves visit and experience each place, and we work closely with the hosts that run them.”
Liz Henderson has advice for those on a New Zealand driving road trip, planning to choose glamping as their accommodation option, “Read the details of each site carefully. All the information about cooking facilities and the set-up is clearly outlined. The key thing is to check your route and make sure you stop for groceries on the way. Don't assume there is going to be a supermarket handy to your destination!” This is good advice for any glamping destination. By definition, glamping is about getting away from it all, and most sites are likely to be off the beaten track. Do your research, and ensure you know the best place to stock up on food and petrol.
A glamping site that is truly unique is available through David and Karen Walmsley’s Totally Tarawera company . They offer water-taxi services, guiding, and glamping at Te Rata Bay, on the shores of Lake Tarawera, close to Rotorua. This site is the first to be granted a glamping concession through the New Zealand Department of Conservation, and is accessible only by boat. They have two luxury tents set up at 'Hot Water Beach' (not to be confused with the one on the Coromandel Peninsula)
“We tell people we are the ‘real’ Hot Water Beach,” David says. “There’s no waiting for low tide or digging holes. We even offer instructions on how to cook using the geothermal sand there.” There’s also almost no other people!
David Walmsley sees that glamping appeals to both ends of the travelling spectrum, young people who are keen to enjoy just being in one place on their New Zealand visit, and want affordable accommodation without backpacking, and older folks who are past the rudiments of camping, and appreciate nice beds and fine linen.
The site at Te Rata Bay is special to the Walmsleys. Karen is a direct descendant of famous Guide Sophia Hinerangi, who took tourists to the Pink and White Terraces before their destruction in 1886, and Te Rata Bay is part of her ancestral lands. The glamping concession is only for 6 months of the year, November to April. Get planning now for next summer.
The most important part of glamping is that is in a beautiful and remote location. While you are not roughing it, you are more exposed to the elements than when in conventional housing, a warm layer and thick socks are needed for when the sun goes down. You’re not going to get to these magical places on a bus, car hire is really essential to access these prime spots. VroomVroomVroom is the fastest and easiest way to get the best deal on car hire in New Zealand.