As the adventure capital of the world, New Zealand is chock-full of impressive places to pitch a tent. From campsites near cascading glaciers, active volcanoes, secluded geothermal springs and private beaches, New Zealand’s unmatched, wild landscape is begging to be explored.
So, rally the troops, roll out your sleeping bag and unzip the tent, because here (in no particular order) are six of New Zealand’s best camping spots for under-the-stars fun and outdoor adventure.
1. Whakapapa Holiday Park, Tongariro National Park (North Island)
This idyllic camping ground is nestled in a beech forest within Tongariro National Park, New Zealand’s oldest national park and the fourth oldest in the world. It’s also a dual cultural and natural UNESCO World Heritage site. Pack your hiking gear and explore the nearby Tongariro Alpine Crossing and Tongariro Northern Circuit hiking trails and be awe-struck by the area’s three mighty active volcanoes: Mt Ruapehu, Mt Tongariro, Mt Ngauruhoe (aka Mt Doom in Lord of the Rings).
2. Te Anau Holiday Park, Te Anau (South Island)
Located on the shore of the crystal-blue Lake Te Anau and surrounded by the majestic Kepler mountains, this tranquil campsite is a snapshot of paradise. Take in the quiet, wild beauty of this spectacular site and explore the nearby glow-worm caves, the cascading Oneroa Falls and the neighbouring Fiordland National Park, home to majestic Milford and Doubtful Sound.
3. Hot Water Beach, Te Rata Bay (North Island)
Located near Rotorua, New Zealand’s geothermal hotspot,Hot Water Beach at Te Rata Bay is a secluded natural hot spring with a small camping ground of just 30 tent sites. It’s accessible only by boat or a half-day hike along the Tarawera Trail. Here you can bathe in the hot, clean water while taking in the breathtaking volcanic backdrop and surrounding bushland. A Department of Conservation facility; you can book ahead via Whakarewarewa.
4. Franz Josef Top 10 Holiday Park, Franz Josef (South Island)
This quaint, rural camping ground is the ideal base for exploring New Zealand’s dramatic Glacier Country. Activities – within ten minutes of camp – including touring the Franz Josef glacier, soaking in the hot pools, helicopter rides, tandem skydiving, visiting the wildlife centre, whitewater rafting, horseriding, ice-climbing, kayaking, off-road quad biking, cycling and hiking.
5. Aroha Island (North Island)
Situated near the tip of the North Island, Aroha Island is a natural haven with a rich diversity of native flora and fauna. Learn about the site’s rich cultural history, swim or kayak along the private, tranquil beach, explore the seven hectares of mangroves and native bush or take a night walk to spot the rare North Island Brown Kiwi birds in their natural habitat. Popular tourist destinations Bay of Islands and Kerikeri are just a stone’s throw away and perfect for day trips.
6. Totaranui Camping Ground, Abel Tasman National Park (South Island)
The Abel Tasman Coast Track is one of New Zealand’s nine Great Walks, renowned for its golden beaches, granite cliffs and calm, azure water. Run by the Department of Conservation, the Totaranui Campground is one of the best places to camp along the 51km track due to its beachfront location. Here, you can relax on the beach, swim, kayak, dive, fish, catch water taxis or explore the abundance of nearby hikes.