Southern shores of Manukau Harbour top popularity stakes.

Awhitu Peninsula, on the southern shores of the Manukau Harbour, is the best place in the country to go camping, according to our readers.

The regional park camping ground has so far received the most nominations in our competition to win $3000 worth of Kathmandu camping gear.

There were also a couple of nominations for the Big Bay Holiday Park, also on the peninsula, making Awhitu a clear winner in the popularity stakes to date.

As Renee Joseph of Mangere Bridge put it: "Beach, bush, walks, swims, walk to island at low tide, birds, sheep, history ... our kids love it."


The second most popular choice so far is Matauri Bay Holiday Park in Northland. Noelene Melvin of Waimauku says it's "the most beautiful place in the world, a great safe beach for children and the fishing and diving is out of this world, [and] the camp is a wonderful friendly place".

Interestingly, the third most popular place to camp was "my backyard". Linda Woods of Pukekohe camps there with "phones turned off, no TV or radio", and reckons it's "bliss [and] cheaper than camping grounds".

There was a lot of enthusiasm for regional parks and Department of Conservation (DoC) campsites. Sharing fourth place are the DoC campsite at Spirits Bay in the Far North, Shakespear Regional Park in the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, and Tawharanui Regional Park in the Firth of Thames.

Other picks included: Tapapakanga Regional Park, also in the Firth of Thames; the DoC campsite on Urupukapuka Island in the Bay of Islands; Poukaraka Flats in Whakanewha Regional Park at Waiheke Island; the DoC campsite at Kaitoke in Great Barrier Island; Parahaha Valley Regional Park in the Waitakere Ranges; the DoC campsite at Putangirua Pinnacles; near Cape Palliser in the Wairarapa; and the DoC campsite at Somes Island in Wellington Harbour.

There were also nominations for Kai Iwi Lakes, near Dargaville, Opoutere Coastal Camping on the Coromandel, Motutara Farm at Whananaki North, Treasure Island Motor and Caravan Park, Whangarei Heads, Anauru Bay in East Cape and Otama Beach Camp in the Coromandel.