NZ's best secret camping spots

Our country hosts a wealth of wonderful places to explore.

The Bridge to Nowhere can be reached from Mangapurua Landing on the Whanganui River. Photo / Tourism Ruapehu
The Bridge to Nowhere can be reached from Mangapurua Landing on the Whanganui River. Photo / Tourism Ruapehu

A lot of campgrounds may have closed, but New Zealand is still full of little-known, wonderful places to go camping. Readers entering our competition to win $3000 worth of Kathmandu camping gear (now closed) have sent in hundreds of suggestions for great places to camp, some fairly well-known, many well off the beaten track.

Here is a small selection of the ideas put forward:

Aroha Island is a small island connected to the mainland by a causeway, at Rangitane, 12km from Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands. Run by a charitable trust, it was nominated by A. Lovelidge, who explains: "Brown kiwis love it, so why shouldn't we?"

McKee Memorial Reserve on the beach at the northern end of Ruby Bay, in Tasman Bay, at the top of the South Island. Harriet Melton says: "Dirt cheap.

Good basic facilities. Playground and flying fox. Views of the expanse of Tasman Bay from your tent."

Blumine Island in Queen Charlotte Sound, is run by the Department of Conservation. Nominated by Richard Palmer of Kaikohe, it's accessible only by boat, facilities are limited to a water supply and toilets, and fires are prohibited at all times.

Wairata Station in the Waioeka Gorge near Opotiki, is a big hill-country arm which offers a range of accommodation options. Nominated by K. Petersen, it offers activities such as eeling and spotlighting possums to birdwatching and glow-worm walks.

Mangapurua Landing on the Whanganui River, is easiest to reach by boat but you can walk down a track which visits several abandoned farms and the famous Bridge To Nowhere. Paul Hamilton, of Thames, remembers: "A great grassy spot among tall native trees. The magic of a bellbird single-note chorus in the mornings is a memory which will stay with me forever."

Ruapuke Motor Camp is on the coast about 40 minutes south of Raglan and also has its own safe swimming hole. Tawa Thomas, from Oparau, sums it up: "Next to the beach. Great facilities. Cheap as chips."

Tapotupotu Bay campsite, run by DoC, is just a few kilometres from Cape Reinga, accessible by road and on the Cape Reinga Walkway. Leanne Jenner of Greenlane recalls: "We camped right on the edge of the beach, listened to the waves at night and swam all day."

Papa Aroha Holiday Park is on the western side of Coromandel Peninsula, not far below Cape Colville. Nominated by Michelle Sorby of Dannemora, it's right on the beach with great fishing - and even offers courses on how to softbait - kayaks, a children's playground and bushwalks.

Trounson Kauri Park, a campground 40km north of Dargaville, is also run by DoC and has just 20 campsites (if it's full, the Kauri Coast Top 10 Holiday Park is nearby). Michelle Sorby remembers camping under a stand of kauri trees and going to sleep to a lullaby of kiwi calls: "Who wouldn't want that for a holiday?"

- NZ Herald

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