The best campsites in New Zealand for first-time campers
Posted on 15/01/2020 by Spaceships Crew
There’s over 270,000 square kilometres of beautiful land in New Zealand and just 5 million people to cover it. This leaves us with miles and miles and miles of untouched natural landscapes, pristine forests, rugged mountains and glorious lakes; making NZ one of the best countries to go camping. You'll find some of the best campsites in New Zealand in this blog post.
All campsites and holiday parks here are listed for a reason, they're among our favourite sites to go camping... Especially if you are a first-time camper and would like to stay in amazing places without having to miss some of the comforts of home.
Of course, your Spaceships campervan comes with heaps included, like all sleeping & cooking gear. But wouldn't it be nice to stay at campsites that have more facilities than just a cold water shower and a long-drop toilet? Look no further, these are the best campsites in New Zealand for you.
Our favourite & best camping spots for first-time campers
If it's your first time camping in New Zealand, it might be scary to go camping in the middle of nowhere. No worries. First, New Zealand is a safe and civilized country. Second, if you're not ready to go camping without modern facilities, these are the best camping spots in New Zealand. They're all located in amazing places, so you'll get to experience all the most beautiful sceneries New Zealand has to offer.
1. Hahei Holiday Resort, Coromandel (North Island)
Hahei Holiday Resort is set on the Coromandel Coast and is one of the most paradisiacal places to park your campervan for a while. Have a look at how much there is to do in the Coromandel. The campsite is located just a short walk from the Coromandel Peninsula’s most striking beach, this really is like something out of a movie.
Why you should stay at the Hahei Holiday Resort? Easy.
- They have beachfront sites for campervans
- It's safe to swim, no rips
- Walking tracks to Te Pare (sun and moon rise lookout... Take photos like an Instagram pro)
- Cathedral Cove at walking distance
- Free Wifi across the resort (as of May 2019)
- Dark Sky low light at night to give you the most spectacular star shows created by Mother Nature
2. Anaura Bay Motor Camp, East Cape (North Island)
Imagine perfect shades of green in the nearby rolling hills, the bluest of blues in the water, and the most incredible sunrises every morning. The area has also been the set of 2002 film Whale Rider. Getting to the East Cape and Gisborne is a great way to see some of the highlights of the North Island. The Pacific Coast Highway will get you there. There's so much to do in the East Cape and Gisborne area, such a shame that so many travellers skip this part of the country.
Reasons to stay at Anaura Bay Motor Camp:
- Absolute beachfront positions, next to one of the most stunning beaches with pristine golden sand
- WiFi is available so you can stay connected with the rest of the world
- A small camp shop that sells mainly ice, ice creams, drinks, bread and milk aka all the staples for a summer road trip.
- No dogs allowed during peak season
3. Blue Lake Holiday Park, Rotorua (North Island)
Blue Lake Holiday Park in The Bay of Plenty is an award-winning camping spot, with plenty of space for you to park your campervan. Holidaymakers never feel crowded in this holiday park and there’s plenty to do nearby.
Reasons to spend a few nights at Blue Lake Holiday Park:
- Rotorua is home to over 15 beautiful Lakes
- Spacious powered and non-powered campsites (Spaceships don't need power so you can stay at a cheaper non-powered campsite)
- This campsite is a 10-minute drive from the centre of Rotorua, "close to attractions and shops yet far enough from the bustling city to enjoy the peace and quiet and avoid the sulfur smell"
- Perfect location for boating, fishing, kayaking or relaxing on the beach
4. Tawharanui Regional Park, Auckland (North Island)
Tawharanui campground is a campground on the northern coast behind the sand dunes between Phoenix Reef and Comet rock. This Regional Park is a great park for those in search of Auckland’s best beaches. If you go out of season, this park is remarkably quiet and you won’t have to fight other holidaymakers for a top camping spot. Spend a few days in Auckland, before heading to this awesome campsite, one of the best campsites in New Zealand.
Reasons to spend some nights at Tawharanui Regional Park:
- It's close to Auckland, only an 80-minutes drive
- Affordable campsite in the Auckland area
- The camp is divided into 5 bays with a central road so it never feels crowded
5. Kauri Coast Campsite, Dargaville (North Island)
This is another award-winning campsite. Kauri Coast Top 10 holiday park is the perfect campsite to enjoy the amazing Kauri forests. This spacious holiday park is literally surrounded by native bush with river boundaries on two sides. The perfect location for enjoying the Waipoua Forest, home of the legendary Tane Mahuta - the giant of the forest or to have some fun at the lake. Kai Iwi Lakes is only 20 minutes away and has crystal clear waters and sandy beaches. Perfect place on your way to Bay of Islands or Northland (Cape Reinga area).
Reasons to spend a few (or more) nights at Kauri Coast Campsite:
- Best of both worlds: close to the forests and close to the lake. Everyone will love it here.
- Lots of facilities, from communal kitchen & bathroom to WiFi.
- Off the grid, most mobile phone providers won't work in this area. Enjoy the peace and quiet.
- Perfect place to fish for trout.
South Island campgrounds and holiday parks
Of course, we wouldn't forget about the South Island of New Zealand. There's also so much to do and see there. And there are more amazing campsites & holiday parks for travellers looking for more facilities while camping in amazing places. No need to go without basic amenities while camping in New Zealand. These are our favourites aka best campsites in New Zealand, the South Island edition.
6. Okains Bay Motor Camp, Canterbury (South Island)
This is an amazing place, perfect for adventurous couples looking to get closer to nature. It’s a no-frills kind of campsite, designed for life’s little pleasures such as hiking, climbing, swimming, fishing or just kicking back and enjoying the views. And there's so much more to do and see in the area.
Reasons to stay at Okains Bay Motor Camp:
- It's located on the beautiful Banks Peninsula
- Beachfront setting
- Safe for swimming and water sport activities
- Over 20 DOC walking and tramping tracks
7. Rakaia Gorge camping ground, Mt Hutt (South Island)
Relatively close to Christchurch you'll find the Rakaia Gorge camping ground, a relaxed campsite with amazing views over Rakaia Gorge. The area has lots to offer, from short walks to longer hikes, amazing views and sportive fun in or around the river. The campsite is run by the Rakaia Gorge Society Incorporated and is non-profit. Prices are low, especially when you see what you'll get: a million-dollar view over Rakaia Gorge and beautiful starry nights.
More reasons to spend a night or two (or more) at Rakaia Gorge camping ground:
- It's only 80 km from the Spaceships Christchurch depot. Easy drive on your first road trip day.
- Spacious campsite with amazing views over Rakaia Gorge.
- Close to the action & fun: jet boating, salmon fishing and Rakaia Gorge walk-way. And for your winter road trip, Methven and Mount Hutt are only a 15-minute drive away.
- Good facilities, kitchen, toilet and showers, and of course laundry facilities.
8. The Barn, close to Abel Tasman National Park (South Island)
Abel Tasman National Park is a perfect place for sea kayak trips. There are plenty of shallow sandy bays to pull up on and explore, so it'll definitely be a fun and Instagrammable trip. And The Barn Backpackers and campsite is the perfect place to spend a night (or two or three) when going on that awesome adventure to Abel Tasman National Park.
The Barn is situated in Marahau, the gateway to the Tasman Region's stunning Abel Tasman National Park. When staying at The Barn, you are staying close to paradise. Actually, you couldn't be any closer to this amazing piece of New Zealand. Abel Tasman Park is a paradise on earth.
Or to use The Barn's words: "Pitch a tent amongst our campsite's shady trees and listen to the native birds. Sleep under the stars and wake looking out over the Beach and Pacific Ocean in either our powered or non-powered sites."
9. Glendhu Bay Motor Camp, Wanaka area (South Island)
Imagine the striking contrast of snow-capped mountain scenery and lush green forests that haven’t been touched by tourism. At Glendhu Bay Motor Camp, it’s like having 355,000 hectares of pristine land on your doorstep. And you can do everything from walking to mountain climbing. Glendhu Bay Motor Camp is Wanaka's only lakeside holiday park. The Otago area has lots to offer. There will never be a dull moment.
Several reasons to stay at Glendhu Bay Motor Camp:
- Did we mention it's Wanaka's only lakeside holiday park?
- Only a 10-minute drive from Wanaka
- The closest campsite to Roys Peak and Diamond Lake walks
- Spectacular views
10. Curioscape campground, Catlins (South Island)
There are so many reasons to add The Catlins to your road trip itinerary. Curioscape campground is the perfect base to enjoy everything the Curio Bay area has to offer: visit a pristine Jurassic Fossil Forest, see dolphins and penguins roaming or swimming in their safe, natural habitat, and enjoy a wide range of recreational activities in this beautiful, unspoiled setting by the sea. That's Curio Bay in a few words.
More reasons to stay a few nights at Curioscape campground:
- It's nestled alongside the swimming beach of Porpoise Bay.
- Sheltered campsites, created by alleys of flax.
- NZ sea lions visit the campground from time to time.
- Full kitchen & dining space, laundry facilities and showers. All the amenities you need.
- Even in this remote area, you won't have to do without WiFi. No worries.
How do you find the best campsites in New Zealand?
Well, it takes years of travelling and camping in our beautiful little country to get to experience all campsites and holiday parks to know which ones are the best. But we'll let you in on a secret. A secret that will make it super easy for advanced but especially first-time campers to find the best campsites in New Zealand. And yes, there are a lot more awesome campsites in NZ. Well actually, it isn't a secret anymore as we've blogged about it a lot.
We've downloaded all info & tips from our brains and have put it all in the following:
- Free Spaceships travel guide: itineraries, deals & discounts on activities and lots more
- Spaceships travel & camping app for your smartphone. Get our app for free
- NZ Frenzy guidebooks with all the tips and info from our travel mate Scott Cook. More info
Latest blog posts in Camping in New Zealand
The end of the DOC campsite pass... For now!
The Department of Conservation (DOC) camping was a great way to camp your way around New Zealand. DOC campsites are located throughout New Zealand offering great camping options...
Sleep cheap in amazing places at DOC campsites in New Zealand
Preparing for your road trip in New Zealand is heaps of fun. The amazing photos of New Zealand will definitely inspire you. One of the most...
How to find amazing camping spots in New Zealand
New Zealand is probably the best country in the world for a scenic road trip. As there are so many awesome places for camping in New...
Is the New Zealand winter a great time for camping?
June, July and August are the winter months in New Zealand. Quite different from the summer weather that you’re used to back home in those months....