Lincoln Tan

Lincoln Tan is the New Zealand Herald’s diversity, ethnic affairs and immigration senior reporter.

Campers evolve into glampers

Most want a few mod-cons rather than truly roughing it, survey shows.

Holidaymakers Jos and Frances Hendrickx (rear), who have been camping every summer for 27 years and prefer DoC sites, with Paul and Ingrid Heynen at Wenderholm, just north of metropolitan Auckland. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Holidaymakers Jos and Frances Hendrickx (rear), who have been camping every summer for 27 years and prefer DoC sites, with Paul and Ingrid Heynen at Wenderholm, just north of metropolitan Auckland. Photo / Sarah Ivey

The great Kiwi camping holiday seems to be dropping out of favour, with few people willing to rough it in the wild without some modern comforts.

Almost six out of 10 people told a Herald-DigiPoll summer survey that they wanted some comfort when camping - and nearly 15 per cent admitted they would like as many modern conveniences as possible.

Less than a quarter said they like to rough it.

The Holiday Parks Association says the changing demands of Kiwi campers are forcing many holiday parks to reduce tent sites and build more cabins and chalets with modern conveniences.

Chief executive Fergus Brown said it wasn't necessarily a bad thing as it meant camping was appealing to a wider group of Kiwis.

"A lot of them are looking for what's termed as 'glamping', or more glamorous camping if you like, and they're arriving with two or three tents for a party of six, and have with them their iPads, microwaves, fridge ...

everything including the kitchen sink."

Mr Brown said most holiday parks still offered a choice of luxury camping or more basic tent camping, but there was increasing demand for modern facilities.

"Some operators have had to spend a lot of money building swimming pools, playgrounds for kids, a gymnasium because their customers wanted it, and are being transformed into a more resort-style camping sites."

Mr Brown said these days internet accessibility was something nearly all campers could not do without.

He said restrictions in freedom camping (such as on beaches and other locations not designated a campground) have made holiday parks a popular option for Kiwis, who make up nearly two-thirds of campers there.

Kiwis usually spend between eight and 15 days at one holiday park, while tourists usually camp for one or two nights, he said.

"Camping is still a hugely popular activity for New Zealanders, and some of them are very loyal," Mr Brown said.

"We've got situations where we have a family of three generations who have stayed at the one park every year for the last 45 years."

Aucklanders Jos Hendrickx, 54, and his wife Frances, 52, who have been camping every summer for the past 27 years, said they preferred Department of Conservation-managed campsites to holiday parks.

This year, the couple have been camping with family and friends at the Wenderholm Regional Park just north of urban Auckland.

Nationally, the department runs 250 sites on public land that are accessible to vehicles, where facilities vary from those with a basic toilet to those with full camp ground amenities.

Mr Hendrickx, who also said he wanted some comfort with his camping, did not think Kiwi campers were getting soft.

"We've got all sorts of campers here, and we've tried to keep what we bring to camp as basic as possible but sometimes progress means there's bound to be better comfort," he said.

Gas-fired camping stoves are used instead of the thermette, a kettle that was once a popular camping accessory, and it is common to see airbeds instead of camping stretchers.

Popular summer camp sites include Marahau, Mavora Lakes, Kaiteriteri Beach and the Coromandel Peninsula.

- NZ Herald

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