There are many amazing campsites in New Zealand, there's no doubt about that! Whether you want to stay at a beach, in the middle of lush forests or among towering mountains, it's all up to you. New Zealand's landscapes are so diverse and the driving distances are relatively short, so you might just have to make these "difficult" decisions every day!
While staying in holiday parks might be necessary from time to time if you need some additional facilities, we believe that staying in DOC campsites or more basic motor camps will give you a much better experience, as the locations are many times simply sublime with amazing views and great tranquility. Isn't part of camping getting away from it all anyway!?
Here's what we think are some of the best campsites suitable for a motorhome in New Zealand. We've experienced every campsite listed here ourselves first hand, and they've left us with memories that will last a lifetime!
Totaranui Campsite Abel Tasman National Park
Abel Tasman National Park will always hold a special place in our hearts as this is where we got engaged, and even though this campground is not exactly where the question was popped, this campground is accessible for motorhomes and not to be missed. Clear green waters, golden sandy beaches and lush bush! What more can you ask for? Enjoy this wonderful campsite at the northern end of the Abel Tasman Coastal track and explore the National Park whether it's relaxing on the beach, kayaking or hiking one of the nearby tracks.
This is a large campground, but it has no powered sites. Bookings are required during summer and during the peak season between December and February a minimum stay of 3 days is required.
White Horse Hill Mount Cook
Mt Cook Village has limited places for staying overnight, but this camping ground is an absolute gem. The alpine scenery is simply stunning with Mt Sefton and Mt Cook in the background. A very popular campground, but there's a reason for it!
Bookings not required, first come first served. There are no powered sites available here.
Glendhu Bay Motor Camp (Lake Wanaka)
A picturesque bay on the lakeshore of Lake Wanaka, about 10 minutes from Wanaka town, this campground offers some pretty epic scenery. Enjoy the tranquility of this beautiful spot and explore some of the excellent nearby walks such a Mt Roy's Peak. There are powered and non-powered sites, and the facilities are great with coin operated hot showers, communal kitchen, wifi, wood fired barbeques, playground and a shop.
Deer Flat Campground Milford Road
About halfway to Milford Sound from Te Anau you can find the Deer Flat campground, a large camping area with open grassy fields and beech forest, nestled in the wilderness.
Bookings are not required here, and campsites are on a first come, first served basis, but it's generally not a problem as this is not a busy place! This is a fantastic option if you prefer not to stay in the busier places of Milford Sound or Te Anau.
The facilities here are very basic. No powered sites available.
Curio Bay Campground - Catlins
You will not be alone on this campground in the Catlins area south of Dunedin. But apart from a few other human beings, most company you'll have here is wildlife! Sea lions will regularly check out what's going on at the campground, and your neighbours at a beach about 200m from the campground are the yellow-eyed penguins. If you're lucky, you'll also be able to spot hectors dolphins play in the large bay! For us this is the number one camping ground in New Zealand to see lots of wildlife.
Powered and non-powered sites available, coin operated showers and laundry, campers kitchen, and a small shop/cafe.
Kerr Bay Campground - Lake Rotoiti
This beautiful campground is located on the shores of Lake Rotoiti in the Alpine village of St-Arnaud, and a great spot to explore the Buller region and Nelson Lakes National Park with many excellent walks. The scenery here can change mood dramatically and is one of the reasons we really enjoy this place. You can just sit and relax by the lake and watch a nature movie all day!
Powered and non-powered sites available. During summer, token operated showers are available but in winter they don't run as the pipes can freeze.
Punakaiki Beach Camp - Punakaiki
Just a walking distance from the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks, feel the raw power of the Wild West Coast as the sound of large crashing waves surrounds you in a spectacular and dramatic coastal setting under towering limestone cliffs. The sunsets here are phenomenal!
Powered and non-powered sites available. There are shower and toilet facilities, communal kitchen areas, wifi, as well as a dump station for waste water.
Tapotupotu Bay - Cape Reinga
Feel like you're at the edge of the world at this marvellous campground just a few kilometers from Cape Reinga. 3km before the lighthouse, turn right onto the gravel road which winds its way down to the campsite. A stunning pristine beach with an amazing backdrop provides awaits you here, and will mezmerize you. Large grassy areas right in front of the beach or along the estuary provide for an amazing coastal camping experience. The walk from the campground to the lighthouse is a must-do, and provides the most spectacular coast
Bookings not required. First come, first served. Cold showers available. No powered sites.
Waikawau Bay - Coromandel
Another insanely beautiful beach is Waikawau Bay in the Coromandel. Only 30 kilometers northeast of Coromandel Town, you'd be surprised how remote this feels. The road is mostly on gravel, and very windy, so it takes about an hour to get there from Coromandel Town. What awaits you though is beach bliss galore. A large pristine white sandy beach with sweeping views of the bay and the Coromandel Forest Park as a spectacular backdrop are the perfect ingredients to replenish your soul. The campground is popular with families during the summer months.
We actually can't get enough of the campsites in the north of the Coromandel Peninsula. These are more remote, than the more famous locations in the Coromandel, but lets you experience the Coromandel at its absolute best! So it's also well worth checking out the Port Jackson, Fletcher Bay and Stony Bay DOC campgrounds.
Anaura Bay Motor Camp - Gisborne/Eastland
Imagine the most unreal sunrises every day! Combine that with the clear waters, golden sands and green rolling hills in the background, and you have the perfect setting to unwind. The motor camp is a converted old Maori school, and the owner that runs it is an experience in itself. This is the real New Zealand! There are powered and non-powered sites, hot showers available, wifi, and there's even a little shop. Don't count on many supplies though, especially at the end of the season. It feels remote and isolated, but this campground is only a little over an hour north of Gisborne. The area around Anaura Bay also featured in the movie Whale Rider.