The island state of New Zealand is an ideal camping destination with sweeping beaches, tall craggy mountains, and dreamlike thermal areas. The mountains are the perfect destination for camping enthusiasts, walkers, cyclists, the trampers, ski borders, and the skiers. New Zealand wide rushing waters provide the adventure and challenges of surf skies, pleasure boats, paragliders, canoes, kayaks, and more. Each year, tourists flock to New Zealand in their millions every year. If you are planning to travel to New Zealand for a camping safari for the first time, here are 5 important things you should know:
1. They’re More Than 200 Vehicle-Accessible Campgrounds in New Zealand
The Department of Conservation manages over 250 vehicle-accessible parks in the country. This means that vehicle camping is very popular and well organized in New Zealand. In fact, there is an organization for motorized campers in New Zealand – New Zealand Motor Caravan Association (1956). There are also lots of popular Campervan Hire websites in New Zealand such as HitTheRoad.Rentals that allow you to view, compare, and rent campervans in New Zealand.
In most public parks in New Zealand, you can enjoy freedom camping which means it’s legal to camp in any public land. New Zealand’s freedom camping regulations are very simple to adhere to. First, you need a camping toilet in your van if the campground you are using does not have public toilets. Secondly, keep the camping area litter-free and, thirdly, never camp on private property without permission. Some of the most popular Freedom Campground in New Zealand include:
- Reid’s Park Farm Freedom Campground – Located on the banks of River Waikato in Rangatira Park North of Taupo, Reid’s park harm has over 20 campsites that are accessible using 2WD vehicles. No prior booking is needed to camp in the Reids Park Farm Campground.
The available amenities in the campground include clean long-drop toilets, clean water, dishwashing facilities, and rubbish bins. Fun activities to do when here include swimming, hiking, kayaking, and walking. You can also chill back and just enjoy the serenity of this campground.
- Orangihikoia Campsite – This campsite is located in Te Urewera in the east coast region of New Zealand. No prior booking is needed for the overnight stay in this park, and there are public toilets on the site. During the day, you can enjoy hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and hunting adventures. The campsite is accessible using 2-wheel drive vehicles, the public toilets are clean, and there is clean water.
- Waikawa Campsite in Tararua Forest Park – Wellington – You do not need to book a camping site at the Waikawa Campsite for free camping. It is close to the road, but there is no disruption from the traffic. There is the water supply, clean toilets, fire pits, and the campsite is accessible to 2-wheel drive campervans.
While camping there, you can engage in many family-friendly activities. These include birdwatching where you can see species such as whiteheads, tui, kakariki, fantails, and other species that you cannot find in any other country. You can also go swimming in the local waterhole, go hiking or just chill in the serenity.
- Piropiro Campsite – Pureora Forest Park, Waikato – On this campsite, you can go for red deer hunting, fishing, swimming, hiking, and cycling. Other interesting things to see include the Maramataha suspended bridge that is close by. With 16 campsites, this is a busy place throughout the year for people that love off the grid camping. The sites are not powered, and booking is not required. A nearby stream provides clean water for cooking and drinking. There are clean long-drop toilets, and adventurers are allowed to stay overnight for 3 days. This campsite is accessible to 2WD vehicles but drives carefully on the winding 13km gravel road from Kokomiko Road to the campsite.
- Ngawi Camping Area – This is one of the best freedom camping spots for coastal camping enthusiasts. You will find the Ngawi Camping area along Cape Palliser Road, right across Ngawi Settlement/town. You can buy your groceries for the entire time that you will be camping here.
The site is accessible to 2WD vehicles, and you are welcome to camp for up to 21 days. There are clean long-drop public toilets and clean water.
There are many exciting activities to do at Ngawi Campsite. For instance, less than 10 minutes’ drive away, you can go see the seal colony, and a nearby fish and chips joint can serve you lunch. You can go birdwatching, hiking, fishing, and swimming. You will also get an opportunity to see incredible sunsets and sunrises on selected and secluded viewing spots. There is an activity for each of the 21 days that you will stay here.
2. Best Time to Go for Camping Safari in New Zealand is Oct to March
The best to visit New Zealand for camping is spring to summer (September to March). Springtime falls between September and November with a temperature range of between 5 to 18°C.
December to February is summertime. Temperatures are within the range of 21 to 32°C, which is quite amicable for beach camping, surfing, and swimming.
March to May in the fall/autumn months. During this time, temperatures fall within the range of 7 to 21°C. This is a perfect time for cycling, mountain biking, kayaking, and so on.
If you do not like crowds, you should probably visit New Zealand from June to August. This is the wintertime, and as such, most of the locals are in school, at work, or otherwise occupied.
Besides, it is cold with temperatures averaging from 2 to 15°C. The mountains are capped in snow, so you might want to bring the skiing gear you can get information on ExpedReview for mountains to climb or visit different towns for cultural and music festivals.
3. Campervan Travel and Camping Is Very Popular In New Zealand
If you are a foreigner and you will be touring the country for just a few months, it makes more sense to rent than buy a campervan.
There are different types of campervans for hire. These include:
- Camper car – This is usually an SUV (sports utility vehicle) but with the back seats removed. Instead of the seats, the car is modified so it can hold a camping bed. This kind of campervan is popular with couples or small families with one or two kids.
- Motorhomes – These are big, usually the size of a mini-bus or a full bus. They can accommodate bigger families, and they have enough space for dining, toilet, kitchen and two to six sleeping berths.
- Campervans – These are bigger than camper cars but smaller than motorhomes. Since they have more space, you can carry more water, food and camping toilet for freedom camping experiences.
4. Crown Your Holiday with a visit to the Lord of the Rings Trilogy Filming Sites
When you travel to New Zealand for a camping safari, ensure you see the locations where the Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed. For campers who enjoyed watching this trilogy, seeing Middle Earth, in reality, will knock the socks off your feet with awe.
Here are some of the popular locations:
- Mount Victoria in Wellington – This is located near the city of Wellington. It is within walking distance of the CBD. See the woods around the mountain that the Hobbits used to hide from the Black Riders. Also, go to Kaitoke Regional Park and see where Frondor recuperated from his knife injury.
- Mount Sunday – If Mount Sunday does not knock the breath out of you with awe, nothing ever will. It is so breathtaking. It is also here that you will find Edoras, which was the Rohan People’s main city in the trilogy.
- Mount Doom – Located in Tongariro National Park, you will see an appealing view of the peak of Mount Doom as it towers above the bare, rock-strewn surroundings. Pull-on your hiking boots and take the Tongariro Alpine Crossing trail to the peak.
Other popular locations that you must visit include the filming areas for Rivendell, Hobbiton, Gondor, and Isengard.
The best areas to camp when you are exploring Middle Earth include Pacific Park Christian Holiday Camp, Narrows Park Christian Camp, and Central City Camping Park.
5. Freedom Camping is Controlled by the Freedom Camping Act 2011
Before 2011, people could freedom-camp anywhere. However, because of leaving traces (litter and human waste), the Freedom Camping Act of 2011 introduced regulation. If you are a foreigner on a camping safari in New Zealand, it is your mandate to know what this act stipulates.
Camping illegally overnight can earn you an instant fine of NZ$200, but illegal behavior towards an enforcement officer can get you fines of more than $5000 in court.