If there is one thing Kiwis do well, it's enshrining our past in magical memories, either in song or on screen.
Scotty and Crumpy in the Hi-Lux, beloved of every New Zealander who never left State Highway 1. Fred Dagg and the seven Trevs, adored by those who'd never seen the inside of a shearing shed. Rachel Hunter and the Tip-Top Trumpet, and we'll stop right there.
Seems the greatest symbol of Kiwi summers past and present has never been awarded this nation's highest honour. Has there ever been a TV commercial, a safety video or a Mockers' anthem immortalising the New Zealand campground?
We're putting that right. Continuing our Best of Summer 2022 series, we're pitching up at your most loved campgrounds today. To vote for the ultimate winner, head to nzherald.co.nz/best to find the simple voting form.
Fitzroy Beach Holiday Park
1d Beach St, Fitzroy, New Plymouth
Right on the beach, in the middle of town and on the Coastal Walkway, accommodation suits all budgets from sheltered sites (powered and unpowered) to studio and one- or two-bedroom cabins sleeping two to six. Summertime, Glamping@Fitzroy offers a flash tenting experience. As well as the safe and patrolled beach, kids can let off steam on a jumping pillow and trampolines; there's a playground and summer pool next door. The spacious communal kitchen-dining room has hobs, microwaves, fridges and freezers (beach views from the balcony) or fire up the guest barbecues. Two laundries, two bathroom blocks and two dump sites.
Hahei Beach Resort
41 Harsant Ave, Hahei, Coromandel Peninsula
You'll wake to 500m of Pacific beachfront at your door (or tent-flap) or a few steps down a sandy path. Accommodation runs from villas and baches sleeping two to seven, cabins for two or family versions sleeping eight – and the whole area can be booked for up to 36 people. Two may glamp in the hills above the beach – possibly the ultimate off-grid hideaway. For the kids, there's a climbing playground. Onsite store, communal dining with an al fresco vibe; the kitchen has all the usual appliances, there are clean showers – even a bath – and toilet blocks throughout the grounds, a laundry, guest barbecues and dump site. Bonus attractions: the onsite Beachbreak Cafe, Intoku smoothie bar, The Deck for a cold beer and snack (family-friendly, guitars and jandals optional), beachfront Bar Hei – and outdoor hot tubs.
Houhora Heads (Wagener) Holiday Park
214 Houhora Heads Rd, Kaitāia
The Subritzky and Wagener families were among the region's European pioneers and this has been one of Northland's most popular campgrounds since the early 1900s. Tucked inside the harbour entrance 40km east of Kaitāia are powered and non-powered caravan, motorhome and tent sites; a pet-friendly area; and cabins with water views. Some of the things they do differently: a holiday programme for children and adults, crafts to sandcastles, movies and facepainting; guests help themselves from fruit trees, herb and vege gardens; recycling (catch a fish and the waste goes to a local orchard for fertiliser).
Kapowairua (Spirits Bay) Campsite
Te Paki Recreation Reserve, Cape Rēinga
When they talk about the Far North, this is what they mean: rugged coastline, cliffs, lush forests, sandy beaches, the pounding forces of two oceans meeting, sites of immense spirituality. DoC's Kapowairua campsite lies within Te Paki Recreation Reserve, also known as Spirits Bay. It's a "scenic campsite" - DoC-speak for limited facilities. Flush toilets, water that needs boiling before use, and BYO soap for the cold showers servicing 25 unpowered tent, caravan and motorhome sites.
Kennedy Park Resort Napier
Storkey St, Napier
Quite possibly the best attraction in Napier that's not Art Deco. Hawke's Bay's largest holiday park's "bed for every budget" stretches from luxury, architect designed villas sleeping up to six, motel units (four berths), studios (two and three berths), self-contained holiday units, cabins and 170 powered and unpowered camp sites. Onsite entertainment includes a 15m pool running around 28C, adventure playground, jumping pillow, pedal cars, junior games and TV room. You can hire bikes and sports gear, there's a giant-screen lounge and Storkey's Restaurant and Bar for evening dining.
Martin's Bay Holiday Park
287 Martins Bay Rd, Mahurangi East, Auckland
Soft, sandy beach with safe swimming, stunning views of the Hauraki Gulf, great fishing, little more than an hour from downtown Auckland in "normal" traffic. Accommodation is genuine beachfront, cabins, tourist flats, beachfront caravans, glamping tents and a new glamping eco-tent. Campsites have power; there are larger motorhome sites and hardstands - they offer caravan and boat storage for guests who don't want to tow their toys every time they visit. For kids, there are two playgrounds. Boaties love the all-weather boat ramp, fish cleaning and weigh station, boat and trailer parking. Communal kitchens are fully equipped, there's a common barbecue area and coin-operated laundry, clean and good-sized bathrooms and a dump station.
Matauri Bay Holiday Park
Matauri Bay Rd, Northland
Herald readers love the north. With dozens of white sandy and safe beaches such as Matauri Bay, it's easy to see why families flock to spots like this, 30km north of Kerikeri and one of the country's best-known holiday parks. As well as powered and unpowered sites, the campground has four caravans sleeping up to five, two five-sleeper and one two-sleeper cabins. There are no toilets or showers in the cabins, caravans or double unit; use the communal facilities. In high summer, the park pretty much functions as a self-contained village with its general store, fuel and dive filling stations, takeaway bar, barbecue area and waterfront picnic tables.
Ōhope Beach Top 10 Holiday Park
367 Harbour Rd, Ōhope
The holiday park at our 2021 Best Beach can do you something nice in self-contained beachfront apartments, motels and cabins or classic Kiwi-style campsites. For a new experience, how about glaravanning or glamping? You get clean communal bathrooms, large communal kitchen and free barbecue areas, two coin-operated laundries, bike hire, the chain's trademark bouncy pillow and two playgrounds. Serious sportsfolk have mini-golf, tennis, basketball or beach volleyball courts; there are TV and games rooms. If you can drag yourself off that beach, dip into the heated pool with two hydroslides, soak pool or hot tubs.
Taupō Top 10 Holiday Park
16 Rangatira St, Taupō
Just 1.5km out of town, this is the nearest resort to the centre and lakefront with the payoff that it's a clean, quiet, spacious camping and RV site set in 2ha of gardened grounds. Accommodation ranges from sheltered campsites to the motels and cabin accommodation. You'll find all the high-quality facilities that are the trademark of this chain, from playground to rec room, communal kitchen, dining and ablution blocks, laundry and dump station. Extras: the sizeable heated pool and thermal plunge pool.
1181 Takatu Rd, Tāwharanui Peninsula, Auckland
A jewel in Auckland Council's crown. Tāwharanui Open Sanctuary is 90 minutes' drive north of the harbour bridge, behind a 2.5km pest-proof fence that keeps out cats, dogs and the old enemies. The concept is to re-introduce the peninsula's original wildlife; some mainland bods have been invited to stand in for the extinct northern takahē. No messing: you can stay in a tent, camper, caravan or similar. Sites must be booked in advance, numbers are strictly monitored. There are bore water taps (must boil water), toilets, BYO solar shower, no power, pets, rubbish disposal or fishing/shellfish collecting.