A List of All of Our Favorite Campsites in New Zealand

A List of All of Our Favorite Campsites in New Zealand

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In this post I share all of our favorite campsites in New Zealand and a map of our route across both islands.

Before arriving in New Zealand, we did hardly any research on where we should park our campervan. However, with recommendations from friends, blogs and Youtube channels, we started slowly finding some of the best campsites in New Zealand.

While “the best campsites in New Zealand” is purely subjective, we really just wanted to share all of the amazing campsites we found along our trip.

If you want to jump straight to our campsites, keep scrolling. But first, I wanted to share a couple things you should know before you begin your campervan trip here.

#1 Download Campermate

By far, the most helpful resource we’ve found has been the CamperMate app.

campermate helps you find the best campsites in New Zealand

CamperMate will show a map of all available campsites, as well as places you can refill your LP gas and visit dump stations along your route. One thing we’ve learned is that while campervanning in New Zealand there are a great deal of dump stations (more so than the US) available for you in various towns along your route.

#2 There are a Few Different Types of Campsites in New Zealand

Freedom Camping.

Upon arriving in New Zealand, we’ve been told this can be a touchy subject because many have abused freedom campsites in New Zealand. Freedom campsites are designated camping zones where you can park your vehicle. Some of these freedom campsites are marked with self-contained vehicle sticker signs (meaning you have a toilet in your rig), however there are also plenty of freedom campsites for non contained vehicles as well.

Note: New Zealand is a beautiful country and so many people have worked hard to keep it that way. If you choose to freedom camp while you’re here, make sure to leave no trace behind. 

DOC campsites

There are more than 200 DOC campsites in New Zealand, many of them absolutely beautiful. You can buy a DOC campsite pass for $100 for five months (or a short term pass as well).

Holiday parks

Holiday Parks are the equivalent of RV parks or campgrounds in the US, with one exception — they are way smaller. So far, the holiday parks we have stayed at have significantly smaller actual sites to park the RV (mostly because campervans are way smaller over here).

Our Campsite Map and Route for the South Island

Below you can see the full route of our trip across the South Island. If you’re wondering why we’ve now zig zagged from the west over to the east coast and then back again, it was to escape the rainy weather!

Considering we don’t have all that much time to spend here, we didn’t want to waste a week sitting inside.

Some of the Best Campsites in New Zealand

Below you’ll find all of the campsites we stayed at while campervanning New Zealand. There are SO many more awesome places we missed along the way, but you have to check out some of these spots while you’re here.

Lake McGregor

Day 1: Lake McGregor

This campsite was okay. The drive into the site was absolutely stunning along Lake Tekapo. We paid $10/person and on a Saturday night it was jam packed with folks.

View on Google Maps

Not great signal

Lake Poaka

Day 2: Lake Poaka

This campsite was incredible! You pull off onto an unpaved road (like most freedom camping we’ve found thus far) and this site allows self-contained and non self-contained vehicles.

View on Google Maps

Great cell signal

We loved Lake Poaka campsite

Day 3: Lake Poaka

We loved this campsite so much we stayed here two nights. The second night we drove over next to the lake and enjoyed waking up next to the water.

View on Google Maps

Great cell signal

Day 4: Lake Outlet Holiday Park, Wanaka

This was our very first holiday park we stayed at and it did not disappoint. We paid around $42/night for a powered site. You have direct access to the lake and awesome bike trails through Wanaka.

View on Google Maps

Good cell signal

Kidds Bush Reserve is one of the best campsites in New Zealand

Day 5: Kidds Bush Reserve Camping Ground

WOW. Seriously, the drive from Wanaka to this campsite is one you will not regret taking. I was a little weary of making the drive to this park because it was out of our way. Absolutely worth it, a breathtaking drive and beautiful campsite. We paid $8/person for the night.

View on Google Maps

No cell signal

Day 6: Kawarau Bridge

This is just a parking lot with an epic view of the New Zealand famous Kawarau Bridge where folks go to bunjy jump. When we stayed there, it was pretty crammed but not bad for a stopover stay.

View on Google Maps

Okay cell signal

Day 7: 25 Mile Stream

Seriously the most epic views to wake up to. This is the best free campsite we found near Queenstown. Just a pull off on the side of the road with plenty of places to park.

View on Google Maps

Great cell signal

Day 8: Millers Flat Holiday Park

This was a quaint little holiday park we stayed at for the night. The owner’s were super nice and helpful and we paid $34 for the night and enjoyed a hot (free) shower. The park was nothing extraordinary but would stay here again. There was also a roaming chicken and we became friends.

View on Google Maps

Great cell signal

Day 9: Warrington Reserve

This free campsite was close to the beach, but nothing special. There was a little parking lot area for non self-contained vehicles and a field where we stayed. The dump station on site was convenient, but probably wouldn’t stay here again.

View on Google Maps

Great cell signal

Day 10: Katiki (North End)

This free campsite along the beach was gorgeous. Not too far off the road, but you’re sitting right next to the water.

View on Google Maps

Good cell signal

Day 11 & 12: All Day Beach

We loved this site so much we stayed here two nights. It wasn’t a very long drive into Oamaru to go and dump our tanks and fill up on water. Also, there’s a really neat Penguin Colony to check out in that town as well. The site is right off the road, but not too much noise at night and the sunrise/sunset is hard to beat!

View on Google Maps

Great cell signal

Day 13: Bendigo

Million dollar views at this free campsite. A little bit of road noise during the afternoon, but it dies down at night. There’s a beautiful little hike across the road. Really can’t beat this for a night stay.

View on Google Maps

Great cell signal

Day 14: Queenstown Top 10 Holiday Park

This campsite was pretty average for the price. I mean, it was nice and all — but we paid like $50. We stayed here because we needed a recharge and it was convenient. Alyssa said the shower was awesome.

View on Google Maps

Not great signal

Day 15: Lowburn Harbour

Fantastic free campsite just a few minutes away from this awesome coffee shop. There were a lot of folks at this site. The rules for this park suggests parking at 90 degrees so that others can enjoy the lake, which is a respectful (and correct) thing to do when you visit.

View on Google Maps

Great cell signal

Day 16: Glendhu Bay Motor Camp

We stayed at this little motor camp because it was the closest campsite near Roy’s Peak (which I hiked the next morning and would totally recommend at sunrise). The park itself was huge and quaint, with lots of places along the lake. We paid $17/person.

View on Google Maps

Great cell signal

Day 17 and 18: 25 Mile Stream

This campsite should look familiar. We loved it so much we came back for a couple more nights. It’s so beautiful and nearby Glenorchy (adorable town) and Queenstown. Can’t beat it!

View on Google Maps

Great cell signal

drift bay shoreline campgrounds

Day 19: Drift Bay

Most of the sites are super unlevel, but you’re surrounded by golden trees and right on Lake Wakatipu.

View on Google Maps

Great cell signal

PHOTO COMING SOON

Day 20-21: Possum Lodge Holiday Park

Fair priced holiday park right on Lake Manapouri. We stayed here two nights since there isn’t any free camping near Fiordland and it was POURING rain these days.

View on Google Maps

Okay cell signal

Day 22: Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise

Doubtful Sound is not as known and popular as Milford Sound in New Zealand, but it is best explored by boat. We found a great deal on an overnight cruise with Real Journeys and snagged a couple of spots.

View on Google Maps

No cell signal

Day 23: Cascade Creek Campsite (DOC)

While making our way to Milford Sound, this is the last DOC campsite en route. We actually shelled out $50 and bought the weeklong DOC pass, but only ended up using it at this park. Would highly recommend this place (if you don’t have a pass I believe it was $13/person). Beautiful mountains and you can park right next to a creek, plenty of spaces.

View on Google Maps

No cell signal

Day 24: Haast Lodge & Motor Park Accommodation

We stayed here after visiting the Blue Pools in Mount Aspiring National Park. The drive over to the coast was incredible and this was one of two campgrounds in Haast. It was $20 per person and a nice, small little campsite.

View on Google Maps

No cell signal

Day 25: Fox Glacier Top 10 Holiday park

This was a convenient stop after hiking up to see Fox Glacier. A bit on the pricier side like most of the top 10 parks, but really a nice place with great mountain views. We also joined the Top 10 Membership at this campground to get 10% off and they gave us a free jaunt in the hot tub. #worthit

View on Google Maps

Great cell signal

Day 26: Jellyman Park

This was a great free campsite right along the water in a carpark. There were lots of people out surfing and the carpark had quite a few campers. Felt very safe.

View on Google Maps

Great cell signal

Day 27: Motueka Beach Reserve

A free campsite next to the water, but this place fills up almost every night. If you want to stay here, I’d recommend getting there before 4PM.

View on Google Maps

Great cell signal

Day 28: Bethany Park Christian Camp

$36/night. Very spacious holiday park just a short drive from the beach and some really great mountain biking tracks. I forgot to snag a photo of our site, so here is a photo from the mountain biking trail that is nearby! A short drive to Abel Tasman National Park as well!

View on Google Maps

Great cell signal

Day 29-30: Brown River Reserve

A nice free, creekside campsite we ended up staying at for two nights. You can hear a little bit of road noise, but it wasn’t too bad. There were several campervans there each night. If you get there early, there’s a couple flat spots near the creek or in the turn around.

View on Google Maps

Great cell signal

Day 31: Ngatitoa Domain

This was a short drive after we got off the ferry in Wellington and a free campsite for the night. There were quite a few other campervans here and a little windy, but I’d stay here again. You’re tucked in between a bunch of soccer fields and the water.

View on Google Maps

Great cell signal

Day 32: National Army Museum

We stayed here on our way to Tongariro National Park. It is a quiet, free parking lot with a security guard that patrols at night. There’s a recommended donation to the museum as well for campervans that stay here.

View on Google Maps

Great cell signal

Day 33: 5 Mile Bay Recreational Reserve

Large free camping area right along the lake and plenty of level spots to camp. We drove into Taupo (10 min away) and had a great dinner at HELL’s Pizza and watched Infinity War at the local theater.

View on Google Maps

Great cell signal

Day 34-35: Rotorua Top 10 Holiday Park

It has been raining so we stayed at this Top 10 for a couple nights. With our 10% discount it was $48/night for two people. We rationalized the high price because there was a couple on-site thermal pools :).

View on Google Maps

Great cell signal

We’re still on a search for the best campsites in New Zealand. As our trip continues we’ll continue posting all of our campsites that we come across. In the mean time, if you have any great campsite recommendations, feel free to drop them below.

Cheers!