Top campsites in New Zealand
Before starting your reading, I prefer to warn you that English is not my mother tongue and there may be some mistakes! thank you for your understanding and enjoy your reading about my favorite campsite
When you plan to travel to New Zealand, in almost all cases, you will sleep at least once at a campsite.
In this article, I’m going to share with you my favourite camping spots all over New Zealand. My small selection includes almost only free campsites or included in the DOC campsites pass.
So good news, these nights will cost you nothing or practically nothing!
Self-contained or not?
As a reminder, there are two types of campervan available in New Zealand:
- The self-contained campervans which are autonomous in water, according to official standards and which have toilets, more expensive to rent or buy. But the free campsites for this type of vehicle are more numerous and often prettier too!
- The non-self contained campervans, which can be any kind of vehicles, a simple car or even a furnished van but which do not have toilets. This is the main difference between these two types of vehicles. There are also free campsites for them, but their locations are sometimes a bit annoying. What I mean by that. It’s that they can be lost just about anywhere!
There are also all types of campsites, from luxury with WiFi and hot showers, to the most basic but which do the job very well if you are not complicated. Holidays Parks being the best known in the field of “high quality” camping, you can find them all over the two islands.
One good plan, little known, is the Conservation Campsite Pass which gives access to more than 90 campsites for free, against a payment of NZD 25 per week and per person. Suffice to say that in a few days, you paid for it. Often, these campsites are well equipped (sanitary facilities, site for preparing meals) and well maintained. Some even have showers, but only with cold water.
Another tip for easly finding campsites is to use two apps that list them: CamperMate and Rankers Camper. I advice you rather the first, because you will find more information there. It doesn’t just show campsites. But also the places where you can change the water, empty your trash cans and also find cool places to walk or picnic.
As you can imagine, I have not tested all the campsites in New Zealand. So don’t hesitate to tell me if you know any cool spots so I can test them! But here is an overview of my favorites.
South Island Campsites
I chose four campsites which are scattered all over the island and which remain for me the most beautiful on the South Island! Most often, these campsites are included in the Conservation Camping Pass or free for self-contained or non self-contained
Monkey Island, Orepuki
Direct access to a huge beach, super calm in the middle of nowhere and if you’re lucky, you may have the chance to see monkeys! But I must admit that during my stay, I was not so lucky…
This campsite is free and has toilets and a small place to cook away from the wind if necessary.
Hillview Camping Stay, Nugget Point
A big favourite for this campsite and for the owner who really embodies New Zealand sympathy. The location is simply beautiful in the middle of the fields with lots of animals. It is super well equipped and has a kitchen, toilets, shower and WiFi access and the possibility of dining on site for very little money.
This campsite is not free or included in the pass, but it cost only NZD 10 per night and per person. So very reasonable when you see the amenities offered and included in the price.
Glencoe Campsite, Herbert
Just a few minutes from Dunedin, this location is just fantastic. It is in a quiet location, close to a river where rabbit visits are regular. Among other things, it has several picnic tables, toilets and a sheltered space with a sink.
The campsite is accessible free of charge with the DOC pass or for NZD 8 per night per person.
Aussie Bay Campsite, Momorangi Bay
The last, at the top of the South Island, perfect if you plan to take the ferry the next day or if you have just arrive form Wellington to the South Island. It is located at the edge of the bay with some picninc tables and also toilets. The view is breathtaking and depending on the season, you can have a swim on the small beach.
Free with the pass or otherwise, it costs NZD 8 per night.
Little anecdote, it is the only campsite where the ranger cam to check our pass! But he didn’t hesitate to amend our neighbours who had paid nothing!
North Island campsite
For the northern volcanic island, I have also selected four campsites that are truly heavenly and I highly recommend that sleep there! As with the South Island, they are either free, included in the Conservation Campsite Pass or very affordable for the night.
Rarawa Beach Campsite, on the road to the Cape Reinga
A 5-minute walk from a white sand beach, worthy of the Caribbean beaches, this campsite is simply magnificent and fist-rate! Large enough to accommodate many vehicles, but just large enough to keep it family-friendly anyway. It has several toilets and cold showers.
It is included in the pass or cost NZD 13 per night per person.
Maitai Bay Campsite, Karikari Peninsula
This location is, for me, on the edge of one of the most beautiful beaches in New Zealand and it also offers a multitude of walks around the campsite. One word of advice, go to the upper part of the campsite, the view is breathtaking. It offers different toilet locations with cold water showers of course and good access to the beach.
The participation for one night is NZD 13 or free with the pass.
Wehiwehi Road Carpark, Matapouri
It’s the ultimate campsite to visit. First of all, it is free for all vehicles and also located in a really beautiful place, in a sort of small bay with a beach, of course. It has toilets and picnic tables. On the other hand if you are in high season, be careful, because places are very limited and it’s free.
Whatipu Campground, Whatipu
The last campsite of my selection is located near a black volcanic sand beach. It looks like a movie. It’s so beautiful. The campsite is on private property and costs NZD 7,30 per night with toilets, cold showers and a kitchen accessible to all. The only negative point is the access road, which is quite winding to get there. But it’s really worth it!
Here we are, we are nearing the end of this article. I hope it will make you want to come and discover one of these magnificent campsites and if so, tell me which one you preferred!