Wellington sits on the southern tip of the North Island and is surrounded by mountain ranges, rivers and a spectacular coastline that spans the Cook Strait. Life can get busy in the city, but you only need to take a short trip to experience tranquility. From Martinborough to the Wainuiomata Coast, here are Culture Trips best places near New Zealand’s capital to pitch a tent for the night.
If you’re looking for a beach camping holiday, head northeast for around 162km (100mi) past the Hutt Valley and Masterton to the Wairarapa Coast and to Castlepoint Holiday Park. This laid-back campsite is perfect for the whole family because it faces a sandy beach and tidal lagoon. Take a walk along the Castlepoint Scenic reserve to explore the lighthouse, the fossil-rich limestone reef and the 160m (525ft) tall Castle Rock. It also has everything you need, from ablution blocks to kitchen facilities (where you can hire a secure cupboard, or use the microwave), and even a 24-hour laundry room.
If you’re into food and wine, then this is the campsite for you. It’s in Martinborough (famous for its wine) in the South Wairarapa district, around 79km (49mi) northeast of Wellington. It’s also close to the town centre, which you can easily walk to from the campsite. Best of all, they have a cat called Tui who is on hand to meet and greet those arriving. There’s also a free public pool right next door, especially useful if you’re there in the summer. The TOP 10 Holiday Park is also family-friendly, has a playground area, bathroom and barbecue facilities. Don’t forget to explore the region’s natural wonders such as Lake Wairarapa and Cape Palliser.
Head 35km (22mi) east from Wellington to the Catchpool Valley Campsite in the Wainuiomata Coast region of Greater Wellington. It’s worth coming here just to look at the stars. And if you want to completely escape, you’ll be pleased to hear there’s no mobile phone reception. There is an emergency phone outside the field base if you need it though. Discover the Ōrongorongo Valley in Remutaka Forest Park on one of the many tracks, or spend the day exploring the Catchpool stream. The nearby Gracen Stream Campsite is another great option to explore the park’s many hidden gems.