A tent and two camp chairs at a grassy campsite surrounded by forest at the Holdsworth DOC Camping Ground in the Wellington Region.
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12 Best Camping Spots in the Wellington Region (2024)

Are you looking for the best camping spots in the Wellington Region? 

If so, you’ve come to the right place!

In this guide, I’m sharing the best places for camping near Wellington, New Zealand.

While Wellington isn’t as well-known for its campsites as some other North Island camping destinations, there are some excellent campsites in the Wellington Region.

My partner and I lived in Wellington for four years and went on camping trips every weekend possible. This guide contains what I believe are the top campsites in the Wellington Region, and all of these campsites are in places I have personally visited.

Camping grounds around Wellington can range from back-to-basics DOC campsites to holiday parks with all the perks. Whether you’re camping in a tent or campervan, and want to camp by the bush or the beach, there will be something for you on this list.

For those of you looking for a freedom camping spot to park your campervan in Wellington, I’ve also covered that here. 

So let’s get to it. Read on to discover the best campsites in and around Wellington!

*Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through the link provided, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I really appreciate your support!

Map of the Best Camping Spots in the Wellington Region

Map Legend:

🔶 Orange tent = DOC or Council Campsite

💛 Yellow tent = Holiday Park

🔵 Blue camper = Freedom Campsite

Best Council and DOC Campsites in the Wellington Region

1. Catchpool Valley DOC Campsite

Foggy views over the Orongorongo Valley river and mountains from the Orongorongo track starting at the Catchpool Valley DOC Campsite in Wellington.
Views of the Ōrongorongo Valley from the Ōrongorongo Track

📍 Location: Remutaka Forest Park, Lower Hutt (Google Maps Location)

🚙 Distance from Wellington city centre: 37.9km (23.5 miles); 45-minute drive

⛺️ Type of campground:  DOC Campsite; unpowered campsites only

💰 Cost: $10 per adult; $5 per child; free for kids under age 5.

🚻 Facilities: Flush toilets, cold showers, BBQs, water taps (boil before drinking)

🐶 Dogs allowed? Yes; on lead/leash only.

Camp next to the peaceful Catchpool Stream at the spacious, forest-fringed Catchpool Valley DOC campsite

The Catchpool Valley is the starting point for several popular walks in the Rimutaka Ranges, including both day hikes and overnight tramps to backcountry huts. 

While this campsite has basic facilities, it has more than you’d usually get at a DOC campsite. You’ll find flush toilets, cold showers, water taps (treat the water before you drink it, though), and even BBQs! 

Another great thing about this campsite is that the entrance gates are locked at night, so you don’t have to worry about people driving in late and waking you up.  

As you’ll probably get no cell service here, this campsite is a great place to disconnect for a bit and get back into nature—and it’s only 45 minutes away from Wellington’s CBD!

✅ Things to do near the Catchpool Valley Campsite

  • Go for bush walks in the Rimutakas. The best day walk here is the Ōrongorongo Track. It takes between 3-4 hours to walk depending on how many stops you make! Bring a picnic to enjoy down at the Ōrongorongo River Valley, and look for swimming holes around there, too!

2. Kaitoke Regional Park Camping Ground

Tyson from Weekend Path walking down a swingbridge in the forest at Kaitoke Regional Park in Upper Hutt.

📍 Location: Upper Hutt (Google Maps Location)

🚙 Distance from Wellington city centre: 47.6 km (29.5 miles); 45-minute drive

⛺️ Type of campground:  Council campsite with unpowered & powered campsites (6 powered sites available)

💰 Cost: Adults are $8 per night (unpowered) or $16 per night (powered); kids are $4 per night (unpowered) or $8 per night (powered); free for children under age 5.

🚻 Facilities: Flush toilets, treated drinking water, sinks, covered seating, power sockets, free electric BBQs

🐶 Dogs allowed? Yes.

Kaitoke Regional Park is a wonderful campground in Upper Hutt. It’s located just a 45-minute drive from the Wellington city centre but feels a world away.

At this bush-clad campground, you’ll get to camp near a beautiful river with lush, green forest all around you.

During parts of the year, you can even have campfires next to the river—but ensure you get permission from the camp host beforehand!

It’s worth mentioning that Kaitoke Regional Park was a filming site for the Lord of the Rings movies. Rivendell (the Elven kingdom) was filmed here! The movie props have since been removed, but there’s an informative little walk within the park that explains where and how the filming was done.

When you camp here, you’ll have access to some wonderful day walks and some great swimming holes. Explore around the river and you’re sure to find a good, deep spot to take a dip. 

This campground is in the perfect spot between the Wairarapa and Wellington, so you can easily access either area after you’ve packed up camp.

✅ Things to do near the Kaitoke Regional Park Campground

  • Enjoy a walk in the forest. The Pakuratahi River Walk and Swingbridge Loop is a lovely track that starts from the campground.

  • You can sometimes have campfires at the riverbed—but make sure you check with the camp host first!

  • If you’re a craft beer fan, consider making a trip to Brewtown in Upper Hutt. It’s about a 20-minute drive from the campground, so it’s not exactly right there—but if you’re traveling to/from Wellington then it’s well worth the excursion! Just please make sure you limit yourself to one drink or have a DD (or grab takeaway beers to enjoy at camp!).

3. Waiohine Gorge Campsite

Jac from Weekend Path standing on the Waiohine Gorge swingbridge with a waterfall beneath it.

📍 Location: Tararua Forest Park, Wairarapa (Google Maps Location)

🚙 Distance from Wellington city centre: 97.2km (60 miles); 1.5-2 hour drive

⛺️ Type of campground:  DOC campsite; unpowered campsites only

💰 Cost: $10 per adult; $5 per child; free for kids under age 5.

🚻 Facilities: Flush toilets; water taps (treat before drinking); fire pits (only use if there are no fire bans)

🐶 Dogs allowed? Yes; on lead/leash only.

If you’re looking for an adventure close to Wellington, the Waiohine Gorge is hard to beat—and the Waiohine Gorge Campsite is a gem of a camping spot.

At the Waiohine Gorge, you’ll find an epic suspension bridge perched over a river gorge. Seriously, this suspension bridge is no joke…walking across it will give you an adrenaline rush! (If you’re afraid of heights, though, then maybe give this one a miss).

After braving a walk across the suspension bridge, you’ll find hiking trails on the other side that lead you into the Tararua Ranges. 

The river here is crystal-clear and full of wonderful swimming holes. There’s even a hidden waterfall (which you can view about midway across the suspension bridge).

It’s worth noting that the drive to get to the Waiohine Gorge is a rough one—it’s all gravel, and gets quite narrow in places to the point where there’s room for only one vehicle. So, do be prepared for that when accessing this campsite. 

Campers in regular cars and campervans should be able to handle the drive if caution is taken, but I wouldn’t recommend heading out this way in a large motorhome or caravan unless you’re really experienced with that.

✅ Things to do near the Waiohine Gorge Campsite

  • Walk across the suspension bridge to access some lovely hiking trails in the Tararuas. The forested walk towards Totara Flats is a nice one; you can go as far as you’d like and then turn around when you get tired. 

  • Go swimming in the river! It’ll be icy-cold but refreshing on a hot day. There are plenty of swimming holes to discover. If you’re feeling adventurous, perhaps bring an inflatable innertube with you—wade up the river and then float back down to where you started.

  • Bring a picnic to enjoy by the river. If you’re driving from Wellington, C’est Cheese and Baker in Featherston will set you up nicely for picnic supplies; or grab a sandwich and pastry from the French Baker in Greytown.

  • Have a campfire under the stars if there’s no fire ban in place—do make sure to check first and only use the designated fireplaces.

Tip: Sandflies can be present down at the river, so ensure you bring insect repellent with you.

4. Holdsworth DOC Campsite

A tent and two camp chairs at a grassy campsite surrounded by forest at the Holdsworth DOC Camping Ground in the Wellington Region.

📍 Location: Tararua Forest Park, Wairarapa (Google Maps Location)

🚙 Distance from Wellington city centre: 107km (66 miles); an hour and 45-minute drive

⛺️ Type of campground:  DOC campsite; unpowered campsites only

💰 Cost: $10 per adult; $5 per child; free for kids under age 5.

🚻 Facilities: Flush toilets; water taps (treat before drinking); cooking shelter; fire pits (only use if there are no fire bans)

🐶 Dogs allowed? Yes; on lead/leash only.

It’s hard to pick favourites, but if I had to…I’d say the Holdsworth Campsite is the best DOC campground in the Wellington Region.

This spacious DOC campsite has heaps of sites for everyone, whether you’re camping in a tent, campervan, motorhome, or caravan. 

The setting at this campground couldn’t be more scenic: it’s located beneath the Tararua Ranges and right next to a beautiful, clear river. The whole place is surrounded by native bush, and the birdlife is amazing—I’ve even spotted kākāriki (red-crowned parakeets) while camping here! 

You’ll feel a million miles away from civilization while camping at the Holdsworth campground, but it’s actually just a 20-ish-minute drive to/from Masterton. So, if you need to top up your snack or beer supplies in between relaxing at camp, you’re in luck—you’ve got the best of both worlds when camping at Holdsworth.

If you go camping at Holdsworth during summer, don’t forget your togs, because there are some awesome swimming holes by camp! Also, pack your hiking boots—the trails nearby are stunning.

During certain times of the year, you’re allowed to have campfires in the braziers provided. Check with the camp host before lighting a campfire, though, as you won’t be allowed to during a fire restriction.

✅ Things to do near the Holdsworth DOC Campsite

  • Go for an icy-cold dip at one of the swimming holes along the river by camp.

  • Walk through the beautiful beech forest to Donnelly Flat (1-hour return; bring a picnic!) or the Rocky Lookout (2 hours return; amazing views). Avid hikers could consider walking to the Powell Hut and back for a full-day walk. 

  • If you’re heading to the Holdsworth Campsite from Wellington, don’t miss a stop at the Clareville Bakery. I always have to stop here for lunch and to pick up some bread/pastries to enjoy at camp! Their cronuts are divine, as is everything they make.

5. Putangirua Pinnacles DOC Campsite

A tent set up on a grassy campsite below cliffs at the Putangirua Pinnacles Campsite in the Wellington Region.

📍 Location: Putangirua Pinnacles Scenic Reserve, Wairarapa (Google Maps Location)

🚙 Distance from Wellington city centre: 118km (73 miles); about a 2-hour drive

⛺️ Type of campground:  DOC campsite; unpowered campsites only

💰 Cost: $10 per adult; $5 per child; free for kids under age 5

🚻 Facilities: Flush toilets; can collect water from the stream (but treat before drinking); fire pits (only use if there are no fire restrictions in place).

🐶 Dogs allowed? Yes; on lead/leash only.

Are you a Lord of the Rings fan? If you are—you need to go camping at the Putangirua Pinnacles Campsite. And if you’re not, well—you still need to go camping at the Putangirua Pinnacles Campsite!

This beautiful DOC campsite is located right at the start of the Putangirua Pinnacles trailhead. The Pinnacles are craggy rock formations that are so neat (and eerie) that they were used as a filming site for the Paths of the Dead in the Lord of the Rings movies. 

The hike to and from the Pinnacles takes roughly 2 hours and is easily one of the best walks in the Wellington region.

When you camp at the Putangirua Pinnacles DOC campsite, not only will you be right near this epic hike—you’ll also be steps away from the ocean! The beaches out this way are rough and pebbly, but if you enjoy moody and rugged scenery, you will love it out here.

I recommend timing a hike to the Pinnacles a couple of hours before sunset, when golden hour lights up everything. Then just before the sun goes down, make your way back to camp and then to the beach (hopefully with a fun beverage in hand!) to catch a stunning sunset over the ocean.

✅ Things to do near the Putangirua Pinnacles DOC campsite

  • On the drive to/from the campground, pop into the Land Girl cafe in Pirinoa for a treat (like a cheese scone!) and coffee, and peruse their selection of colourful gifts and housewares.

  • Make sure to do the Putangirua Pinnacles walk, as mentioned above. It’s an excellent little day hike and you won’t want to miss it!

  • Catch a sunset from the pebbly beach by the campground.

  • Stargaze at night—there is basically no light pollution out this way, and on a clear night, the stargazing is simply incredible. 

  • Drive to nearby Cape Palliser to explore around; don’t miss the Cape Palliser lighthouse and seal colony!

Best Holiday Parks in the Wellington Region

6. Martinborough Top 10 Holiday Park

A bike and helmet resting on a wooden pole in front of a vineyard in Martinborough.
Hire a bike from the Martinborough Top 10 Holiday Park and cycle to wineries!

📍 Location: Martinborough, Wairarapa (Google Maps Location)

🚙 Distance from Wellington city centre: 81km (50 miles); a one-hour and 15-minute drive

⛺️ Type of campground:  Holiday Park with unpowered & powered campsites + cabins

💰 Cost (per two people): Tent sites from $56; powered sites from $60; cabins from $120.

🚻 Facilities: Modern camp kitchen and bathrooms; free BBQs; laundry room; playground; onsite bike hire

🐶 Dogs allowed? No.

If you like camping, and you also like wine, then you need to stay at the Martinborough Top 10 Holiday Park! You’ll get to camp right in the midst of the beautiful vineyards Martinborough is known for.

This well-run campground is set up so nicely. The campsites are leafy and green and great for campervans or tent camping. 

There are also some excellent camping cabins on offer, and that’s what I usually stay in when camping here. Their cabins are some of the nicest I’ve encountered at a holiday park! In reality, they’re probably so nice that they don’t actually qualify as “camping” (but that’s more than okay by me!).

The facilities at the Martinborough Top 10 are great. There’s a clean camp kitchen, bathrooms with hot showers, barbecues, and free Wifi. To top things off, the campground staff are always super friendly…including the adorable resident cat, Tui, who will likely pay you a visit while you’re camping.

The best thing about this campground, though, is that you can hire bikes onsite to cycle to the nearby wineries! 

I recommend camping here for a couple of nights. On the first night, you can get all settled in, and then hire bikes the next morning to take out for the day. Spend the day cycling to Martinborough’s fantastic boutique wineries, then cruise back to camp for a chilled-out barbecue dinner before relaxing under the stars!

✅ Things to do near the Martinborough Top 10 Holiday Park

  • As mentioned above, you’ve got to cycle to Martinborough’s wineries! It is so much fun. Bring your own bikes or hire them from the campground or from Green Jersey in town. There are a lot of amazing wineries in Martinborough…I highly recommend Poppies (get a lunch platter, too!) and Moy Hall.

  • Enjoy a filling, delicious brunch at Cafe Medici.

  • Sample the beers at the Martinborough Brewery (and maybe get some cheese rolls while you’re at it).

  • Explore the nearby Patuna Chasm.

7. Waimeha Camping Village

The red-and-white-striped Cape Palliser lighthouse above a beach cove with wild waves splashing on the rocks.
The Waimeha Camping Village is just 10kms from the Cape Palliser Lighthouse

📍 Location: Cape Palliser, Wairarapa (Google Maps location)

🚙 Distance from Wellington city centre: 132km (82 miles); about a 2-hour drive

⛺️ Type of campground:  Private campground with unpowered & powered campsites + cabins

💰 Cost: Unpowered campsites are $15-18 per adult & $10-15 per child; powered sites are $20-23 per adult & $15-18 per child; free for kids under age 5. Cabins start at $100 for 2 people.

🚻 Facilities: Modern camp kitchen and bathrooms ($2 for 5-minute shower); BBQ; laundry facilities; activity room; playground; onsite bar/restaurant open on the weekends (book ahead).

🐶 Dogs allowed? By arrangement only, and not in the cabins (only campsites).

Out in remote Cape Palliser lies a gem of a campground: the Waimeha Camping Village.

This private campground is the perfect place to stay if you want to camp near Cape Palliser but would like more amenities than you’ll get at a DOC campsite.

The Waimeha Camping Village is run by a friendly owner who has set this place up so well for campers. 

You’ll have multiple camping options here, including cabins, powered sites, and unpowered sites. As a bonus, the campsites and cabins have ocean views!

Facilities at this campground are excellent and include a fully-equipped camp kitchen, clean bathrooms, and free BBQs.

When you camp at the Waimeha Camping Village, you’ll be in the perfect spot for exploring nearby attractions like the Cape Palliser seal colony and lighthouse. 

✅ Things to do near the Waimeha Camping Village

  • View the seals at the Cape Palliser seal colony. This is the North Island’s largest fur seal colony, and it’s one of the best places to see seals in New Zealand!

  • Walk up the (many) stairs to check out the beautiful Cape Palliser lighthouse

  • Go swimming, surfing or fishing (depending on conditions, of course!).

  • Get fish ‘n chips at the Captain’s Table in Ngawi and enjoy your meal by the ocean.

  • Hike the nearby Putangirua Pinnacles Trail—it’s one of the North Island’s best day hikes! 

8. Castlepoint Holiday Park

Cabin number 9 at the Castlepoint Holiday Park with an ocean view at sunrise.
The Castlepoint Holiday Park has great little camping cabins!

📍 Location: Castlepoint, Wairarapa (Google Maps location)

🚙 Distance from Wellington city centre: 164km (102 miles); about a 2.5-hour drive

⛺️ Type of campground:  Private campground with unpowered & powered campsites + cabins

💰 Cost: Tent sites from $22 per person; powered sites from $25 per person. Cabins start at $95 for 2 people.

🚻 Facilities: Camp kitchens and bathrooms (with coin-operated showers); BBQs; laundry facilities; tv room; playground; dump station; recycling facilities; boat and fish cleaning area

🐶 Dogs allowed? Yes, but from 1st April-1st December only and with some restrictions.

Out of all the campgrounds in this guide, the Castlepoint Holiday Park is the furthest from Wellington. But don’t let that deter you from visiting this out-of-the-way place: it’s well worth the journey!

Castlepoint is a special spot. Located at the northern end of the Wairarapa Region, Castlepoint has a real “edge-of-the-world” kind of feeling. It’s wild and rugged out this way—which is sometimes just what you want out of a camping trip, isn’t it?!

There isn’t much in Castlepoint besides the ocean, baches (holiday homes), a beautiful lighthouse, and some lovely short walks. Because of its remote nature, you’ll want to bring in everything you need. If you forget something, though, there’s a small shop selling basics, fish ‘n chips, and ice creams. 

The Castlepoint Holiday Park couldn’t be in a better location—it’s perched on a hilltop right above the ocean. This does mean that it can sometimes get quite windy, so do come prepared for that!

You’ll have multiple camping options at Castlepoint, ranging from basic cabins to holiday units to unpowered and powered campsites. 

I’m here to share a secret, though: cabin #9 is where it’s at. This wee cabin is just perfect for two people, and has the most glorious ocean views. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly romantic getaway, you’ve got to check it out!

Facilities at the Castlepoint Holiday Park are a bit vintage (aka somewhat dated) but perfectly functional. You’ll find a camp kitchen, bathrooms with hot (coin-operated) showers, and BBQs for guests to use. This campground feels safe and friendly and has an old-school vibe that I just love.  

✅ Things to do near the Castlepoint Holiday Park

  • Explore the Castlepoint Lighthouse. Take a walk up to the lighthouse and around the tops of the surrounding limestone cliffs. Look for shell fossils embedded in the limestone, and keep your eyes peeled for dolphins and seals in the ocean below. It’s particularly magic to experience the lighthouse walk at sunrise! 

  • Walk the Deliverance Cove Track and if you’re feeling adventurous, continue up to the Castle Rock lookout. If you’re afraid of heights or if it’s extremely windy out, I don’t recommend going up Castle Rock. If the conditions are right, though, then you’ll get the best views up there. 

  • Go surfing, swimming, or fishing depending on the conditions. Castlepoint is home to one of the most beautiful beaches on the North Island.  Please take care, though, as the ocean can be wild and dangerous. 

  • Grab fish ‘n chips at the Castlepoint store to enjoy at the beach.

  • If you want to have an amazing BBQ dinner at camp, stop by Homegrown Butchery in Masterton before driving to Castlepoint. They make excellent sausages and just have the best stuff in general!

9. Wellington Top 10 Holiday Park

The Interislander Ferry gliding across the ocean in the Marlborough Sounds.
The Wellington Top 10 Holiday Park is the closest campground to the Interislander ferry terminal.

📍 Location: Lower Hutt (Google Maps location)

🚙 Distance from Wellington city centre: 16.2km (10 miles); about a 22-minute drive 

⛺️ Type of campground:  Holiday park with unpowered & powered campsites + cabins

💰 Cost: Unpowered sites from $50 for 2 people; powered sites from $55 for 2 people. Cabins start at $85 for 2 people.

🚻 Facilities: Camp kitchens and bathrooms; BBQs; laundry facilities; games room; playground and jumping pillow; private spa (hot tub) for hire.

🐶 Dogs allowed? No.

The Wellington Top 10 Holiday Park is the closest commercial campground to the Wellington city centre and Interislander ferry terminal.

Located in Lower Hutt, this isn’t exactly the most scenic location for a campground, but it’s certainly convenient if you’re planning to hop on the ferry to Picton or simply want to be close to Wellington.

At the Wellington Top 10, you’ll find all of the facilities you’d expect from a well-run holiday park, including hot showers, modern camp kitchens, BBQ’s, and laundry facilities. The grounds are park-like and peaceful, and it’s easy to drive or catch the bus to the Wellington city centre for a day of exploring the capital.

Things to do near the Wellington Top 10 Holiday Park

  • Explore Wellington! This campground isn’t far from the city centre, so it’s a good base for visiting the city. Top things to do include visiting the Te Papa museum, taking the cable car to the Botanic Gardens, and visiting Zealandia to look for native birdlife.

  • Enjoy brunch at one of Lower Hutt’s excellent cafes. Miss Fortune’s is an excellent spot that’s within short walking distance from camp. I also recommend Seashore Cabaret and Comes & Goes.

  • Visit nearby Eastbourne—pop into a seaside cafe, walk the Butterfly Creek Trail, hang out at Day’s Bay beach, or hire bikes from Wildfinder to cycle to the Pencarrow lighthouse.

10. Paekakariki Holiday Park

Two people hiking along a swingbridge surrounded by greenery above the ocean and road on the Paekakariki Escarpment Track.
The Paekakariki Holiday Park is a great base for exploring local trails like the Escarpment Track!

📍 Location: Paekarariki, Kapiti Coast (Google Maps location)

🚙 Distance from Wellington city centre: 42.9km (26.6 miles); about a 40-minute drive 

⛺️ Type of campground:  Holiday park with unpowered & powered campsites + cabins

💰 Cost: Campsites are $20 per adult, $10 per child, and free for children under age 2.

🚻 Facilities: Camp kitchens and bathrooms; BBQs; laundry facilities; covered dining areas; playground and jumping pillow; dump station; wifi available for purchase.

🐶 Dogs allowed? Yes, but only in dog-designated campsites (not in regular campsites or any cabins). There’s a small charge per night for dogs.

If you’re after a campground on the Kapiti Coast, the Paekakariki Holiday Park is a good choice.

Located about 40 minutes north of Wellington, this holiday park is a nice place to camp if you want to stay by a lovely beach not too far from the city.

The Paekakariki Holiday Park is set right next to the spacious Queen Elizabeth Park, which has nice walking and picnicking opportunities.

You’ll also be close to the beach, which is great for swimming and for watching some epic sunsets over the ocean. 

If you’ve got kids in tow, they’ll love the amenities at this campground; it has a playground, jumping pillow, and trampolines.

✅ Things to do near the Paekakariki Holiday Park

Freedom Camping Sites in Wellington City

If you’ve landed on this guide because you’re looking where to freedom camp in Wellington City, then this section is for you! 

There are two main freedom camping sites within the Wellington city limits.

In order to camp at these spots, you must have a self-contained campervan. After this section, you’ll also find everything you need to know about freedom camping in Wellington.

11. Evans Bay Marina Freedom Camping

Campervans and motorhomes parked by the water at the Evans Bay Marina freedom campsite in Wellington city.

📍 Location: Hataitai, Wellington City (Google Maps location)

🚙 Distance from Wellington city centre: 4.4km (2.7 miles); about a 10-minute drive

⛺️ Type of campground:  Freedom campsite for self-contained vehicles only

💰 Cost: Free

🚻 Facilities: Toilets, dump station, fresh water

The Evans Bay Marina freedom camping spot is the closest freedom camping site to the Wellington CBD.

You’ll find toilets, fresh water, and a dump station at this freedom camping site.

This spot can get a bit noisy as it’s right off a main road and is also close to the airport. Earplugs might come in handy! However, the location is absolutely perfect for exploring the Wellington city centre, so it’s well worth a night of noisy sleep.

To get to the Wellington city centre from the Evans Bay Marina campsite, you can take the public bus—there’s a bus stop close to the campsite on the Evans Bay Parade. You’ll want to look for the Number 24 bus.

Alternatively, you could easily take an Uber from this location.

There are three supermarkets within a 10-15 minute walking distance of this camping site: the Kilbirnie Countdown, Pak ‘n Save, and Commonsense Organics. Pak ‘n Save has the cheapest prices out of the three. 

This camping site is extremely popular with campervanners getting on or off the Picton ferry, so make sure you time things early and have a backup plan in case all sites are taken!

12. Te Kopahau Reserve Overnight Campervan Parking

A sign for the Te Kopahou Reserve at the Owhiro Bay freedom campsite in Wellington, with a green Jucy van and a car parked behind it by the ocean.

📍 Location: Ōwhiro Bay, Wellington City (Google Maps location)

🚙 Distance from Wellington city centre: 8.7km (5.4 miles); about a 15 to 20-minute drive

⛺️ Type of campground:  Freedom campsite for self-contained vehicles only

💰 Cost: Free

🚻 Facilities: Toilets

The Ōwhiro Bay (Te Kopahau Reserve) freedom campsite is located on Wellington’s South Coast, right at the entrance to the beautiful Red Rocks Walkway.

The hike to Red Rocks is one of the best walks in Wellington, with gorgeous views of the South Island and opportunities to spot New Zealand fur seals. So it’s pretty special to get to camp right next to this excellent walk!

This campsite is in an absolutely gorgeous location, but do note that it can often get extremely windy out this way, so be prepared for that possibility.

The Ōwhiro Bay campsite is farther out of town than the Evans Bay site (detailed above), so do keep that in mind. Cell service can be spotty, but if you have decent service you could consider calling an Uber to get into the city. 

Otherwise, you can walk to catch a public bus to explore the city. The best route is to walk for 30 minutes along the oceanfront path to Shorland Park in Island Bay, and catch the Number 1 bus to get to the city centre.

There is often a coffee cart parked up at this campsite, which is a real treat in the morning after a night of camping! 

If you wake up after a night of camping and just can’t deal with making breakfast, I highly recommend paying a visit to the nearby Beach House and Kiosk. A hot breakfast whilst camping is sometimes just the best, especially if you don’t have to make it yourself 😊

Types of Camping in the Wellington Region

There are three main types of camping in and around Wellington. To learn more about what to expect from each type of campsite, read on!

🏕 Council and DOC Campsites in Wellington

Craggy rock formations at the Putangirua Pinnacles walk in the Wellington Region.
Wellington’s DOC Campsites are near some awesome hiking trails, like the Putangirua Pinnacles Track.

Council and DOC campsites are managed by local/national government and they’re usually set in scenic conservation areas. These are the places to camp around Wellington if you want to enjoy nature and have a back-to-basics camping experience.

Council and DOC campsites are suitable for tent camping or campervan camping, but most offer unpowered campsites only (except for Kaitoke Regional Park, which has some powered sites). 

Along with the minimal facilities comes a lower price tag—Council and DOC campsites are where you should head if you’re looking for cheap camping in the Wellington Region.

While facilities vary depending on the campground, you’ll need to be mostly self-sufficient when you camp at one of these Council or DOC campgrounds in the Wellington Region. This means you should bring your own camp stove, lantern, and oftentimes your own drinking water, amongst all of the other things you’ll need for a comfortable camping trip!  

⛺️Holiday Parks in Wellington

Two camping cabins at the Martinborough Top 10 Holiday Park in the Wairarapa.
Cosy camping cabins at the Martinborough Top 10 Holiday Park

If you’re looking to camp around Wellington without really roughing it, then you’ll want to head to a holiday park.

Holiday Parks around Wellington (and in New Zealand in general) have everything you need for an easy camping trip, including drinking water, bathrooms with flush toilets and hot showers, and communal camp kitchens.

The holiday parks on this list have powered and unpowered campsites and are suitable for tent camping or campervan/caravan camping. The holiday parks in Wellington also have camping cabins available. 

🚐 Freedom Camping in Wellington

A parking lot filled with campervans and cars by the ocean and mountains at the Owhiro Bay freedom campsite in Wellington.
The Te Kopahau Reserve Freedom Campsite in Wellington

If you’re travelling in a self-contained campervan, caravan, or motorhome, you’ll find quite a selection of freedom camping sites around the Wellington Region.

There are two main freedom camping sites within the Wellington city limits, plus more spots in the Wairarapa and along the Kapiti Coast.

In order to camp at these spots, you must be in a self-contained vehicle. You can’t freedom camp in Wellington in a tent or car. 

Things to Know About Freedom Camping in Wellington

  • In order to freedom camp in Wellington, you need to have a self-contained vehicle. If you’re hiring a campervan or motorhome for a road trip around NZ and you plan to freedom camp, you’ll want to ensure that you’re hiring a certified self-contained vehicle. You can’t tent camp in either of these sites nor can you sleep overnight in a regular non-self-contained car or van.
  • The freedom campsites in Wellington can fill up fast. For the best chance of getting a site, you should aim to get to your campsite early in the day—morning or early afternoon would be best, as sites will likely fill up by 6 pm. Have a backup plan in case your chosen freedom site is full—the DOC campsites and holiday parks listed in this guide are all excellent choices, but do note that they’re all outside of the city.
  • Note that these freedom camping sites are parking lots, rather than a campground in the traditional sense of the word. Make sure you only park your campervan in a designated freedom camping spot within the parking lot. There will be signs showing you which carparks are specifically reserved for freedom camping.
  • Once you’ve found a campsite, leave your campervan or motorhome parked there and either walk, take an Uber, or hop on a public bus to get around the city. Wellington is a compact city, so you won’t need to drive yourself around to see its highlights. 
  • The freedom camping sites in Wellington have toilets and water available, but that’s it. Come prepared! 
  • You can stay at Wellington’s two freedom camping sites for a maximum of 4 nights in one calendar month.
  • If you’re in need of a hot shower after freedom camping in Wellington, head to the Freyburg Pool in Oriental Bay or the Wellington Regional Aquatic Center in Lyall Bay. You’ll need to pay an entry fee, but both locations also have hot tubs and saunas, which are a real treat if you’ve been camping for a while!
  • To find freedom camping sites around the Wellington Region, I recommend using the Campermate App.

Tips for Camping around Wellington, New Zealand

A grey tent staked to dry grassy ground at the Putangirua Pinnacles campsite in the Wairarapa Region.
Don’t forget your tent pegs—campsites around Wellington can get windy!
  • Be prepared for wind: As any Wellingtonian knows, the Wellington Region can get extremely windy—and these camping spots are no exception. If you’re tent camping in Wellington, you’ll want to ensure you have a good wind-resistant tent and heavy-duty tent pegs! It also pays to check the weather report before heading out, too.
  • You might not get cell service at some of these campsites, particularly the DOC sites as they are in quite remote places. 
  • Don’t light fires at these campsites unless it’s specifically allowed, and check for any fire bans before doing so.
  • Please remember to pack out anything you bring in! The holiday parks mentioned in this guide will have rubbish facilities, but the DOC camping grounds in Wellington do not. Leave these spots beautiful for the next campers to enjoy.

🚐 Thinking of Hiring a Campervan for your Wellington Camping Trip?

I recommend looking at Motorhome Republic to find the best deals on campervan rentals in New Zealand.

Wellington isn’t a major hub for campervan rentals, but if you’re planning to do a big North Island road trip, you’ll find lots of campervan options in Auckland.

You could pick up your campervan in Auckland, drive from Auckland to Wellington, and then hop on the ferry for the South Island. You’ll find heaps of epic campsites on the South Island!

Thanks for Reading my Wellington Camping Guide!

I hope this guide has helped you find a nice spot to go camping in the Wellington Region. 

Happy camping around Wellington!

2 Comments

    1. Hi Sammy!

      Thanks so much—happy to hear you liked the guide!

      As for Kaitoke Regional Park, it’s actually first-come, first-served, so you can’t book it in advance (I’ll add this detail to the guide!).

      However, unless you’re planning to camp between Christmas and the first week of January (absolute peak camping season), you shouldn’t have any issues getting a site there.

      You can pay at the self-service kiosk onsite with a credit or debit card, and pick any open site you’d like.

      I hope that helps, and have a great time camping!

      Cheers,
      Jac

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