Camping in New Zealand

Summer here is starting to come to a close but we still have another couple of months before it starts to feel like winter, and even then it is never really that cold.

Early morning view


So far we both agree it has been a good use of money.  We made extensive use of the tent over the Christmas holidays and have been using it at weekends to escape the city. Camping is much cheaper than a hotel and more fun than a batch.

Camping in New Zealand is easy with the added bonus of most sites being in beautiful locations.  You also have a choice of;

  • Government run (Department of Conservation) sites;
  • Council sites;
  • Private sites; and
  • Freedom camping.

Freedom camping is a hot topic in NZ right now.  If you plan on freedom camping ensure you take everything you bring out with you and don’t use nature as a toilet, especially number 2’s.  Some places even have designated freedom camping spots which usually have a public toilet.

Our tent!


We have found the app NZ Rankers ( to be useful at finding all sites in the list above. It also gives an indication of prices, reviews and discounts.

Rankers App

Our favourite sites tend to be the Department of Conservation (DOC) sites.  They are generally more basic than privately operated sites (no hot showers and long drop toilets) but are in some of the most beautiful places in New Zealand.  Not only do they have great locations they are cheaper than most other camp sites.

Generally for campsites you can expect to pay from $12 to $20 per person per night with private sites at the top end. Sites with hot showers will charge extra (normally 50 cent per 7min).  During peak season it is worth trying to book but generally DOC sites are first come, first served.

This summer the best spots we have been to are:

Matai Bay,  Karikari Peninsula, Northland.  This site is run by DOC and can get busy at peak times – map link

Matai Bay

Puriri Bay, Whangaruru N Rd, Whangaruru, Northland.  This site is run by DOC and is right on the waters edge. – map link

Puriri Bay

Goat Island Camping, Goat Island Road, Leah, Warkworth.  Private site that has basic facilities but great location if you like to explore the Marine reserve at the end of the road – map link

Enjoying the outdoors at Goat Island.

Opoutere Coastal Camping, 460 Ohui Rd, Opoutere, Coromandel Peninsula.  Set back from the beach behind a pine forest with a DOC recreational reserve adjacent.  The beach is generally empty with white sand – map link

Lake Okareka, Rotorua.  DOC run site about a 15 minute drive from the centre of Rotorua.  Small but all of the sites are adjcent to the lake. We loved it here – map link

Camping right on the lake.

These are just some of the camp sites that are easy for us to escape too at the weekend.  Still plenty more for us to explore!

Ali and Katie.

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