The Most Beautiful Camping Sites in New Zealand

Bay of Islands - Urupukapuka Island | © Alan & Flora Bottling/Flickr
Bay of Islands - Urupukapuka Island | © Alan & Flora Bottling/Flickr
Photo of Thalita Alves
19 November 2017

Camping is a favourite summer pastime for many Kiwis. If you’re headed to New Zealand in the warmer months, this is one way to tap into the country’s natural beauty. Whether you choose to hire a campervan or pitch a tent, here are some of the lovely sites to include on your must-visit list.

Matauri Bay Holiday Park, Northland

This beachfront campground is located towards the northern tip of the North Island, some 30 kilometres (18.6 miles) northeast of the Bay of Islands town of Kerikeri. Besides being set in a wonderfully picturesque coastal location, Matauri Bay is quite ideal for day trips to Cape Reinga. It’s also a great spot for walking, fishing, and trying out water activities.

Matauri Bay, New Zealand | © brewbooks/Flickr

Urupukapuka Bay Campsite, Bay of Islands

Urupukapuka Bay is an island that can be accessed by water taxis and passenger ferries departing from Russell and Paihia. Its campsite is owned by the Department of Conservation and enjoys plenty of beautiful seaside vistas. Walking, kayaking, fishing, and swimming are just some of the popular activities to try. Bookings for this campsite are essential.

Bay of Islands - Urupukapuka Island | © Alan & Flora Bottling/Flickr

Poukaraka Flats, Waiheke Island

Here is another island-based campsite – this time in Waiheke. The Poukaraka Flats Campground is discreetly tucked away at Whakanewha Regional Park on the southern end of the island, and is a great starting point for exploring the surrounding beaches, wetlands, forests, and historic reserves. Facilities at this campsite are quite basic but includes flush toilets and cold showers.

Waiheke Island | © Goueg/Flickr

Matai Bay Campsite, Karikari Peninsula

Matai Bay on the North Island’s Karikari Peninsula is quite a popular spot among campers, fishing and sea life enthusiasts. Snorkelling is a must-do if you want to see your fair share of marine wildlife up close. The campsite itself operates on a first-come, first-served basis and is accessible to several walking tracks and culturally significant locations.

Matai Bay, Karikari Peninsula, Northland | © ItravelNZ/Flickr

Opoutere Coastal Camping, Coromandel

The unspoilt campsite at Opoutere offers everything the Coromandel Peninsula is revered for: white sand beaches, lush forests dotted with native Pohutukawa trees, and plenty of tranquility for those who need it most. Advanced bookings during peak tourist months are highly recommended as the entire region experiences a high influx of visitors.

Southern end of Opoutere Beach | © Glenn Howell/Wikimedia Commons

Te Araroa Holiday Park, East Cape

This is a classic Kiwi camping ground surrounded by trees, gardens and a freshwater stream. Te Araroa Holiday Park is located right between Opotiki in the eastern Bay of Plenty region and Gisborne, making it a good location to catch a glimpse of the majestic sunrise the East Cape is so famous for. Facilities are basic but functional, offering everything you need for a peaceful camping trip.

View from the East Cape Lighthouse | © ItravelNZ/Flickr

Totaranui Campground, Abel Tasman National Park

If you’re set on doing the Abel Tasman Coastal Walk, the stunning Totaranui Campground is one of the best places to stay during the 51-kilometre (31.7-mile) journey. The site is huge – it’s said to be able to accommodate up to 850 people – and extends from the golden-sand beaches right up to the estuary. As it is a Department of Conservation camping facility, bookings are a must.

Early Morning in Totaranui, Abel Tasman National Park | © Samuel Mann/Flickr

Pohara Beach Holiday Park, Golden Bay

Pohara Beach Holiday Park sits in the South Island’s stunning Golden Bay, within close range to Abel Tasman National Park, Kahurangi National Park and the fairy-tale like Te Waikoropupu Springs. In the summer months, Pohrara Beach becomes a hive of activity as crowds gather to catch a glimpse of the sun-kissed turquoise waters. If you want to enjoy a bit of tranquility, consider visiting just before the tourist rush sets in.

Sunset at Pohara Beach | © Jenny Hudson/Flickr

Makarora Tourist Centre, Southern Lakes

Of course, there’s more to the New Zealand summer than sandy beaches. Venture just beyond the northern tip of Lake Wanaka, right at the edge of Mount Aspiring National Park, to find the campgrounds of the Makarora Tourist Centre. Here, you’ll get to revel in a bunch of outdoor experiences, from fishing to hunting and hiking, too. With exquisite river views, a swimming pool and a restaurant, the camp site offers everything one could ever need for a quiet holiday away from the city rush. Although Wanaka itself is only an hour’s drive away if you do need to spend some time back in civilisation.

Makarora River | © Pseudopanax/Wikimedia Commons