Where To Go Camping Near Christchurch

Try your hand at camping in spots such as Canterbury’s Craigieburn Forest Park
Try your hand at camping in spots such as Canterbury’s Craigieburn Forest Park | © jiGGoTravel / Alamy Stock Photo
Bianca Ackroyd

New Zealanders love camping so much that they have made it free for people to do in many areas all over the country. Visitors should look out for Freedom Camping sites, where those with campervans can stay the night at no cost. Visitors to Christchurch have a plethora of camping spots in the Canterbury region and beyond, to head to on weekends for fresh air, bush walks and open skies. Here is our guide to some of the best places to go camping near Christchurch.

Coastal farm camping in the Banks Peninsula in Akaroa

Located on the Banks Peninsula, Akaroa is a small town with links to French settlers. Known for its unique geological formation due to volcanic features, this area, located 81km southeast from Christchurch, is close enough to be popular with Christchurch locals. For a budget-friendly and authentic rural Cantabrian camping experience stay at the Onuku Farm Hostel, which is situated on 430 hectares of coastal farm and bush land. This venue has a range of accommodation from campsites to dorm rooms or a hut for guests who want more privacy. Watch birds in the day and gaze at the stars at night in this traditionally styled venue that has been running since 1980.

Camp in the rural Canterbury Plains in Methven

Situated 96km west of Christchurch, Methven is a small farming town on the western edge of the Canterbury Plains. The area is popular for fishing, boating, hiking and hot air ballooning, and is close to the famous ski fields of Mount Hutt and hiking routes of Mount Sunday. Stay at the Methven camping ground which has a communal kitchen, lounge and fire area with showers and laundry facilities.

Camp in the adventure heartland of the Hurunui District

Home to thermal springs, lakes, whitewater rapids, mountain ranges and coastal stretches, the Hurunui District is a great place close to Christchurch to head out to for an adventure weekend. Only 99km north of Christchurch, this outdoor region is popular all year round. There are several Freedom Camping sites to choose from, all run by the Hurunui District Council. For those who want to be close to Hanmer Springs, stay at the Hanmer Springs Forest Camp. For those who want to be close to the beach, stay at Gore Bay and Buxton campgrounds.

Camp near the limestone fields of Castle Hill

Mistletoe Flats campsite, run by New Zealand’s Department of Conservation, is in Canterbury’s Craigieburn Forest Park. Set in beech forest, tussock and mountains with mountain biking and hiking nearby, this campsite is 107km from Christchurch. Visit the nearby Castle Hill, also known as Kura Tawhiti, home to hundreds of limestone boulders with snow-capped mountains in the background.

Alpine camping near Arthur’s Pass

Located between the east and west coasts of the South Island, Arthur’s Pass National Park is the heart of New Zealand’s Southern Alps. As New Zealand’s oldest national park, established in 1929, it is a sanctuary for rare plant and birdlife. There are several options for camping near this majestic mountain range which is 149km from Christchurch. Try the Avalanche Creek Shelter Campsite, which is across the road from the Arthur’s Pass visitor centre. Another camping option nearby is the Hawdon Shelter Campsite on the grassy flats of Hawdon Valley. Both sites are run by New Zealand’s Department of Conservation. Watch out for the Kea, the endangered Alpine parrot that is very curious and will poke holes in your tent to find out what’s inside.

Lakeside camping in the Mackenzie District

Sleep under the starry skies of the Mackenzie District only 228km from Christchurch. Camping on the waterfronts of Lake Tekapo and Lake Ruataniwha near Twizel is a perfect weekend away for those who love fishing.

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