Camping or glamping along the South Taranaki coast is the holiday that offers the best in beach living say dozens of campers.

Set up at Kai Iwi Beach camp, Wai-inu Beach camp (out of Waitotara), Waverley, 5kms from town and the Patea Beach Camp - a hidden paradise - these campers mostly from throughout Taranaki, Wanganui and Palmerston North say why go north when the best holiday destination is right on their door step.

They say it's New Zealand the way it was.

In Patea even the locals love the Patea campground.

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They love it so much that many head down the road every year for their summer holidays setting up caravans, tents, gazebos and barbecues.

It looks like a small village in the beautiful bowl-like setting, surrounded by trees.

The campsites are sheltered and minutes from the boat ramp into the river and three minutes from a small beach which, according to locals, is safe and fabulous for children.

This campground is owned by the South Taranaki District Council and has been run for the past four years by Hennie and Glynis van Deventer.

The couple have a house 10 minutes away and take turns to stay in their caravan at the camp to greet people. The beach camp is tucked away just 1km from the town and it is a hidden secret that locals are keen to keep that way.

However, Glynis said the secret is well out.

"And we like it.''

An old classroom from Waverley High School has been moved on to the grounds and is now the recreation hall, she said.

"We have karaoke, games, people just sitting and chatting. It's a friendly communal space and is used a lot."

The camp is busy with the Christmas/New Year campers moving out later this week then the campers opting for that quiet and lovely beach holiday are moving in.

Lyta McMillan, Ashlee Meyar and Jacqui Smith play a game of cards at Patea.
Lyta McMillan, Ashlee Meyar and Jacqui Smith play a game of cards at Patea.

"We are well booked up until February."

Whether it's caravans or tents the family groups were well set up with most describing the latest in camping gear as phenomenal.

New Plymouth couple Alan and Rebeckah Climo said camping was the ultimate way to achieve a completely relaxing holiday.

"You sleep so well, all food tastes wonderful, it's quiet ...we're happy.''

The South Taranaki District Council has owned the three camps, Patea, Waverley and Wai-inu, for more than 10 years.

The mood around these camps was all about relaxation. There was that real old days Kiwi beach feeling, everyone strolling about in shorts and jandals and little kids with sunburned, peeling noses.

The only modern intrusion was the sound of boats towing sea biscuits in the background.

At Kai Iwi camp owner Jeff Sims said they had just set up a fish and chip business as well.

"We already had our cafe selling coffee and gourmet burgers. Now it's fish 'n' chips too. It's hard to keep up with demand. We've even got locals coming in as well."

The campground was well booked up and consisted of mostly families, he said.

On New Year's Eve they had ensured their campground families were all safe by deterring any young people looking for parties, he said.

"The safety and well-being of our campers is important to us."

A family from Palmerston North had even created a patio around their caravan, put up bright seating and a unique Christmas tree made of driftwood.

"We love it here it's so beautiful - we have real family time," the Anderson family said.

And the Pope family said it was a great holiday for them even though they live just 15 minutes away in Wanganui.

"It's a fantastic break in a beautiful setting," Graham Pope said.

At the Waverley campground five families, all related, said they were having the ultimate holiday with their "rellies".

Amy Adams said meeting up with family from both "sides" all from Eltham and Stratford was the absolute best way to have a holiday.

"We love it here. The kids are happy, we're happy it's a couple of weeks of bliss..it is really."