Pitch your tent and slap on the insect repellent — DoC reveals its most used campsites.

Tens of thousands of Kiwis are this weekend setting up camp in stunning publicly-owned slices of paradise.

But some brave souls may also be battling the elements with little more than sandflies and a long drop for company.

The Department of Conservation has revealed its 10 most-popular campsites.

The sites - in Northland, the Coromandel, the Central Plateau, Golden Bay and Aoraki-Mt Cook - offer a mix of golden sand beaches, pristine swimming holes and glimpses of some of our most beloved native flora and fauna.


They draw between 15,000 and 50,000 eager campers each year.

DoC also has a list of hidden gems - the 10 least-used campsites that attract fewer than 100 hardy visitors a year.

Just one on that list is in the North Island; the Piripiri campsite in Manawatu's Pohangina Valley.

Six of the other sites are in the Marlborough Sounds - Kauauroa Bay, Waiona Bay, Ngaruru Bay, Moawhitu, Mill Arm and Wharehunga.

Marlborough's Coldwater Stream also makes the list, as do Thicket Burn and South Arm Campsite in Fiordland. DoC says they are gems of the New Zealand countryside, despite being barely used.

"Many of these campsites receive lower use due to their remote locations. Others are only accessible by boat or kayak," DoC's Mike Edginton said.

In the top 10 list, Northland is home to four of the sites; Otamure Bay, Maitai Bay, Puriri Bay and Uretiti Beach. Otamure Bay offers campers access to a nearby bay that is rarely visited.

Two spots on the Coromandel make the top 10: Waikawau Bay and Port Jackson.


Waikawau Bay, 42km north of Coromandel township, is set at the southern end of a "long, sweeping white-sand and surf beach". It is a "family friendly" site and can accommodate up to 1250 people at a time.

Sixteen kilometres away, Port Jackson attracts people who want to "get the classic Kiwi camping holiday", Edginton said.

It has facilities for up to 450 campers and is ideal for swimming, boating, kayaking, fishing and diving.

It only has cold showers, but is on a "golden sandy beach".

The Totaranui campsite in the South Island's Golden Bay also offers the quintessential Kiwi camping experience, a "back to basics" location.

It has attracted family groups for generations despite the lack of hot showers, power and only limited cellphone coverage.

It is a "very popular spot for boating and kayaking.

"The resident weka population provides an added distraction for all," Edginton said.

The White Horse campsite at Aoraki-Mt Cook is also in the top 10, as are the Waikaremoana Holiday Park and the Whakapapa Holiday Park.

If you're enjoying a break at one of the top 10, don't feel too sorry for anyone who has tackled one of those rarely visited spots, which DoC describes as undiscovered.

"Each camp is a special place in its own right ... sometimes the biggest bonus is that they are not overcrowded," Edginton said.

The sites are one of the cheapest summer holiday options. Charges range from $10 a night per adult for serviced campsites - flush toilets, hot showers and a kitchen - to $6 a night for standard campsites - long-drops, cold showers and wood barbeques. Basic campsites are free.

But get in quick - demand for some sites is strong, particularly at Totaranui, which has a two-week window in July for people to book their Christmas and New Year spots.