Hitting the road in a motorhome is a firm favourite for Kiwi families, canine campers included writes Kat Barber. It offers flexibility with no need to pre-book flights or accommodation, as well as the chance to have a relaxing nature-based escape away from the crowds.
Best of all, this type of holiday will be a real crowd-pleaser. But before you hit the road, these top tips will ensure the trip is a memorable one for the whole family. Fido as well.
It's all about preparation
Before you go, double-check your dog's vaccination certificates are all up to date, as some camping grounds may want to see copies when you check-in.
Being far from home, it's important to check they are registered on the national Animal Companion Register (animalregister.co.nz) so that you can be reached if they run off. Similarly, an engraved tag with their name with your phone number is a must-have when you're on the road.
Stock up on a pet first aid, so you're prepared in case of an emergency when you are far from a vet. It's also handy to take a quick-dry towel for those muddy walks and a pet cooling mat may come in handy if you're travelling during the hot summer months.
Setting up camp
You'll find hundreds of dog-friendly places to pull up for the night across both islands. Download the free Rankers app or the paid Wikicamps ($2.99) which both have handy dog-friendly filters to help you choose a spot.
It's best to keep your dog on-lead at all times, both for their own safety, and that of other campers. Be very careful of letting your dog wander off in areas where you see 1080 baiting signs, as this is extremely poisonous to dogs. And to avoid annoying your neighbours, never leave your dog alone for extended periods of time as they may become distressed and start barking or whining.
When it comes to sleeping arrangements, most owners would agree that their dog should sleep inside the van. So find a comfy spot to place their bed and water bowl, and you'll all sleep soundly.
Time for an adventure
Travelling with a dog can restrict you from doing certain things and visiting places such as national parks and shopping centres, but their boundless joy and affection more than makes up for it.
Have a dip: With so many dog-friendly beaches, rivers and lakes around the country, you'll never be far from a place to take a refreshing dip.
Take a hike: There's not a dog in the world who doesn't love walks, so stretch those legs and explore the local trails. AllTrails.com rates thousands of trails on its app so you can filter by dog-friendly, kid-friendly or stroller-friendly. Try to avoid hiking in the middle of the day during summer, and always pack plenty of water for everyone.
Socialise: Dogs are the ultimate ice-breaker when it comes to meeting other dog-loving campers. The dogs can socialise and the kids can play, while you can swap stories, advice, and play a game of cards with the other campers.
Fishing: If you've got a sea dog, hiring a boat for a day of fishing is a great activity for the whole family. Otherwise, you can always head to a local pier or riverbank and drop your line in. With some luck, you'll return with the evening's dinner.
Geocaching: This activity is like a big global treasure hunt, perfect for the whole family. Download the app at Geocaching.org, then decrypt clues to find small virtual treasure boxes hidden nearby. It's a fun way to explore the local area and test your sleuthing skills.
And remember, for any other activity that doesn't permit dogs, look for local dog sitters on Pawshake.co.nz, find a local kennel, or try to swap dog-sitting services with other campers. Dogs should never be left in hot cars or motorhomes.
9 dog-friendly sites around New Zealand
Little River, Banks Peninsula
Eco-friendly natural campground Little River is the only dog-friendly site on Banks Peninsula. Settle into a riverside plot and enjoy bird watching, hiking and swimming at this charming no-frills site.
Clarks Beach, Auckland
You won't be bored at Clarks Beach Holiday Park, a spacious family camp on the shores of the Manukau Harbour. On-site they have a swimming pool, mini-golf, games room, and bicycles for hire, while Clarks Beach is a great spot for swimming, fishing and scallop gathering. Less than an hour from Auckland, dogs are welcome on-lead in a number of sites and cabins.
Leigh Central, Matakana
If you want to explore north Auckland, highly-rated Leigh Central offers plenty of space for motorhomes and pups. Every space has Wi-Fi, power and water, plus there's a well-equipped guest lounge. While you're in the area, hire a Clearyak, the only glass-bottom kayak experience in NZ.
Miranda Holiday Park, Coromandel
The Miranda Holiday Park near Auckland is hugely popular with dogs thanks to their individually fenced sites giving dogs space to run around safely. Plus, on-site tennis courts, playgrounds, barbecue areas and a hot mineral pool make it one of the best sites in NZ for the whole family.
Twelve Mile Delta, Queenstown
Bring your boat and fish for brown trout, rainbow trout and salmon at Twelve Mile Delta Campsite on the banks of the Wakatipu River. Space is not an issue with more than a hundred sites to choose from and plenty of picnic tables scattered around the site. A perfect jumping-off spot to explore Queenstown, just a 15-minute drive away.
Maitai Valley, Nelson
Right in the centre of the country, Matai Valley campsite in Nelson is an inviting, sunny site with prices from just $10 per adult. Lying at the start of the Dun Mountain Trail, it's perfect for hiking or MTB, with an inviting watering hole to cool off after an adventurous day.
Baylys Beach, Northland
Whether you're into golfing, fishing, surfing or hiking, Baylys Beach has plenty to offer. Once you've set up at one of the shady powered or unpowered sites, head to the dunes to watch the incredible sunset over 112km-long Ripiro Beach, NZ's longest driveable beach. baylysbeach.co.nz
Mossburn Country Park, Southland
With 28 acres of lush farmland and panoramic mountain views, Mossburn Country Park is the perfect place to call home for a few days while you explore the sounds. Say hello to the resident alpacas, sheep, cows, goats and hens and you might even get some free-range eggs for brekkie.
Spring Creek Holiday Park, Blenheim
Birdwatch at the creek, spend your days relaxing by the pool, feed the pet eels or hike the local trails from Spring Creek. Don't miss picking up local produce at the Marlborough Farmers' Market held every Sunday. From here, you can easily pop into the super dog-friendly winery Forrest Wines (forrest.co.nz) for a wine flight on the deck.