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32 Best Campsites on the South Island, New Zealand (2024)

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Summary of post: The best campsites on the South Island, New Zealand—plus fun things to do near each camping spot!

If you’re looking for the best campsites on the South Island, then look no further: this is the guide for you.

We’ve spent over 6 years (and counting) seeking out the best campsites in New Zealand. This means that we’ve been lucky enough to camp all over the country, and we have stayed in tons of amazing campgrounds on the South Island (and sometimes, some not-so-great ones, which we won’t mention). 

When it comes to the best campsites on the South Island (and just in general), we have two main criteria: they’ve got to be either 1) in a beautiful setting OR 2) close to fun things to do—or even better, both!

In this guide, we’ve whittled down hundreds of South Island campsites to 32 top-notch camping spots that stand out from the rest. 

Whether you’re looking to camp by a pristine alpine lake, next to a beautiful beach, or near some epic mountains, the South Island has got it all.

So without further ado, here are 32 of the best campsites on the South Island, New Zealand!

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

Table of Contents

Map of the Best South Island Campsites

🚐 Looking to Hire a Campervan for your South Island Camping Trip?

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They compare prices for the top NZ campervan and motorhome companies so you can get the best deal possible.

Campervan and motorhome rentals are in extremely high demand in New Zealand, so make sure you book yours as soon as you can!

Check Campervan Prices Here!

What to Expect from this South Island Camping Guide

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This guide includes lots of hiking trail recommendations, too!
  • While all of the campsites in this guide are campervan-friendly, lots of them are also great for tents, and some even offer camping cabins. Most of these campsites are for paying campers, but a few are free. There is truly a South Island campsite for every type of camper.
  • We’ve organized these South Island campgrounds by region, to help you best plan your camping trip. There’s a campground on this list in pretty much every region of the South Island—so if you’re planning a South Island camping road trip, you’re in luck! 
  • Below each campground write-up, we’ve included a list of the best activities to do nearby. In particular, you’ll find lots of recommendations for hiking and other outdoor activities, and good local places to get food and drinks.
  • Note that in New Zealand, you typically pay per person for campsites, so prices listed are often just for ONE person. This can vary, though. For each campground, we’ve tried to note whether pricing is for one or two people. If you have more than two people in your party, you’ll typically pay an additional fee for each person. Most campgrounds offer lower campsite rates for children, too. 

Apps for Finding South Island Campsites

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The Campermate App is such a helpful tool when camping around New Zealand

Our most-used app when camping around New Zealand is the Campermate App. It’s free to download and has heaps of South Island campsites listed. The main reason we use the app, though, is for finding drinking water and bathrooms when we’re road-tripping. It’s a really handy resource when driving around New Zealand.

The other app we use when camping on the South Island is Google Maps. It may sound obvious, but Google Maps is a lifesaver when traveling around New Zealand!

Before you head out to a South Island campsite or other destination, we recommend plugging your destination(s) into Google Maps and then downloading the offline version of the map. That way, if you lose service or don’t have enough data on your phone, you can still access directions.

Overview of South Island Campsite Types

Freedom Campsites (free)

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If you plan to camp at lots of South Island freedom campsites, you’ll need a self-contained campervan or motorhome.

Freedom campsites are, as you might expect, completely free. 

The catch is that you usually need to be in a self-contained campervan to stay at a freedom campsite. A self-contained campervan has its own toilet, plus freshwater and wastewater storage. 

In order to be officially self-contained, a campervan needs to be certified as such; it’ll need a self-contained warrant card and certificate inside of the vehicle, and usually a visible “self-contained” sticker on the rear windshield.

All of the major campervan rental companies will clearly outline if their campervan rentals are contained or non-self-contained. You’ll usually pay a bit more for a self-contained van, but it can be worth the extra cost if you plan to stay at lots of free campsites.

Some freedom campsites will have toilets, but others won’t. Other than possibly having a toilet, there won’t be many other amenities at a free campsite, nor will there be power to charge up your van. You’ll need to bring your own drinking water and everything else you need.

In this guide, we’ve included a couple of freedom campsites, but not just because they’re free; instead, they’ve been included because they’re in epic locations. A lot of freedom campsites are simply in parking lots and are a place to just sleep for the night. In this guide, we’ve focused on featuring campsites that are a cut above the rest, rather than just listing out free campsites to stay in.

DOC Campgrounds (low cost)

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Facilities at most DOC campsites are basic—but you’ll usually get to camp somewhere stunning!

DOC—New Zealand’s Department of Conservation—has hundreds of public campsites dotted around both the North and South Islands.

We absolutely love staying at DOC campsites; they’re often in really beautiful places, are affordable, and have a more natural feel than a commercialized campground.

At a DOC campsite, expect bare-minimum facilities. Most DOC campgrounds don’t have electricity (although some do!), so you usually won’t be able to power up your campervan or motorhome. 

You can always expect to find a toilet at DOC campsites, although they’re often non-flush (long-drop) toilets. There may or may not be water available—but if it is, you might need to boil or treat it before drinking. You will likely not get cell service or wifi at many DOC campsites around the South Island.

So, if you plan to camp at a DOC campsite, make sure you 1) research what amenities are on offer before you head out and 2) bring your own drinking water and everything else you need for camping!

Tip: If you’re planning to camp at lots of DOC campsites, it may be worth purchasing a DOC campsite pass. You can choose from a 30-night or 365-night pass. While the DOC pass doesn’t guarantee you a site at a campground, it does pay for most DOC campsites around the country (you’ll want to look online first, though, as there are some sites it won’t work at). In this guide, we’ll note which DOC campsites accept the pass.

Private Campgrounds and Holiday Parks (mid-range to higher cost)

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Most holiday parks around New Zealand will have camping cabins available, amongst lots of other amenities.

If you want to go camping on the South Island without really roughing it, then head to private campgrounds and holiday parks.

At a holiday park, you can expect to find lots of amenities onsite, like drinking water, hot showers, a camp kitchen, BBQs, wifi (usually), and sometimes camping cabins and other accommodation, too. Holiday parks will have powered campsites available, so you can power up your van while you camp.

Private campgrounds vary in what they offer—some can be super basic, but others have some really great perks to make your stay extra special. There are some excellent family-run private campgrounds on the South Island that we’ve included in this guide; they’re often our favorite places to camp as they have lots of charm.

If you’re planning to go campervanning around the South Island, you could spend a few nights at free or DOC campsites, then spend a night or two at a holiday park.  That way you can take hot showers, power your van, get wifi, and basically just get back into civilization for a bit. 

Tip: If you’d like to stay at multiple Top 10 Holiday Parks around New Zealand, you might want to consider getting a Top 10 Membership card. It costs $49 for a two-year period, and gives you 10% off all campsites and accommodation at Top 10 locations. You’ll also get discounts on local activities and the Interislander ferry between the North and South Islands. 


Okay, now that you have an overview of the different types of campgrounds on the South Island, let’s get to the best part—the campgrounds themselves! Here are 32 epic campsites to choose from…

*Note: all information was accurate at the time of writing, but things can change all the time—please double-check each campground’s website for the most up-to-date pricing, etc! Prices in this guide are all in NZD.

The Best Campsites on the South Island, New Zealand

Best Campsites in the Nelson Tasman Region, Upper South Island

1. Smiths Farm Holiday Park, Marlborough Sounds

*Top Choice*

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The friendly sheep at Smiths Farm Holiday Park
  • Why it’s worth camping at: This campground is just 30 minutes from the Picton ferries in the picturesque Marlborough Sounds. Kind hosts, on-site friendly farm animals, and glow worms make it extra-special.
  • Type of campground: Private Campground/Holiday Park 
  • Camping options available: Unpowered & powered tent and campervan/motorhome/caravan sites; camping cabins
  • Cost: Campsites start at $20 per person; cabins start at $65 per night for two people. 
  • Amenities: camp kitchen; bathrooms with hot showers and flush toilets; laundry facilities; on-site farm animals and glow worms.

This family-run holiday park is packed full of lovely surprises. 

Where do we start?

Well, the welcoming owners greet you with homemade muffins on arrival. 

The campground is on a working farm, and there’s a paddock with friendly sheep you can feed. 

There’s a short walk on-site to a waterfall with glow worms at night. 

The whole place just feels friendly and it’s located in a beautiful, grassy-green spot in the Marlborough Sounds, with plenty of adventurous activities nearby.

We love staying here on our way to/from the Picton ferry. Whenever we’re driving from Picton to Queenstown, we make sure to stop here! It’s the perfect place to stay for a night (or more) when traveling around the Nelson Tasman region.

Things to do near the Smiths Farm Holiday Park
  • At the campground, make sure to visit the friendly sheep and walk to the glow worm dell and waterfall!
  • Drive to nearby Havelock, the Greenshell Mussel Capital of NZ, and eat at the Mussel Pot. They serve up steaming bowls of local green shell mussels in a variety of delicious sauces. 
  • Go hiking on the Queen Charlotte Track. The start of the Queen Charlotte track is just 4kms from Smiths Farm Holiday Park. This beautiful tramping track is normally completed over multiple days, but there are day hike options available, too. The short day hike from Anakiwa to Davies Bay would be a good option if you have limited time

  • Kayak in the Marlborough Sounds! Sea Kayak Adventures is conveniently located just down the road from Smiths Farm, in Anakiwa. You can hire kayaks from them to take out on your own, or book a guided kayak adventure.

2. The Barn, Marahau

*Top Choice*

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When you camp at the Barn, you’ll be right at the start of the incredible Abel Tasman Track
  • Why it’s worth camping at: You’ll get to camp in the heart of Abel Tasman National Park, with hiking and kayaking opportunities right at your doorstep.
  • Type of campground: Private Campground/Holiday Park
  • Camping options available: Unpowered & powered tent and campervan/motorhome/caravan sites; camping cabins; glamping
  • Cost (for two people): $34 (unpowered site); $40 (powered site); cabins start around $79.
  • Amenities: Free hot showers; Free 250mb of wifi per day; indoor and outdoor camp kitchens; BBQs; laundry facilities; outdoor games; beach access

If you’re after a wonderful place to camp near Abel Tasman National Park, head to the Barn in Marahau.

This well-run campground is located in the most prime position at the start of the Abel Tasman Great Walk.

They have sites for campervans, tents, and even cozy camping cabins. The campground has awesome facilities, including two camp kitchens (one indoor, one outdoor), clean bathrooms, outdoor games, communal fire pits, and an onsite shop selling locally-raised beef and other goodies.

Things to do near the Barn Campsite
  • Do a day hike on the Abel Tasman trackl!
    • We recommend taking a water taxi from Marahau to Anchorage Bay, then hiking back to Marahau along the amazing coastal track.
      • The hike itself will take around 4 hours, but you may want to take your time and go swimming at the beaches along the way (you should!). You’ll finish your hike right at camp, so it truly couldn’t be a more convenient place to stay. 
      • To book a water taxi for your hike, we recommend Marahau Water Taxis or Abel Tasman Aquataxi.
  • Rent kayaks for the day, and explore Abel Tasman National Park by sea! You can choose from guided kayak trips or simply hire kayaks to take out on your own.
    • For kayak rental companies, contact Marahau Sea Kayaks. They’ll sort you out with everything you need for an amazing day on the water!
  • Get breakfast or happy hour drinks and snacks at Hooked.

3. Totaranui Campground, Golden Bay

  • Why it’s worth camping at: Camp beachside at this stunning DOC campground; when you’re not lounging at the beach, hit the hiking trails on this less-busy side of Abel Tasman National Park.
  • Type of campground: DOC Campground
  • Camping options available: Unpowered campsites for tents, campervans, motorhomes, and caravans.
  • Cost: Campsites start at $15 per adult & $7.50 per child, with slightly higher rates during peak season (26 Dec to 8 Feb). The DOC campsite pass can be used here, except for the weeks between 26 Dec to 8 Feb.
  • Amenities: Drinking water taps; cold showers; non-flush toilets; beach access; boat launch

This massive DOC campsite is in an awesome beachfront location on the northern side of Abel Tasman National Park. 

Located right next to the beautiful golden-sand Totaranui Beach, this campground is really something special.

It’s a bit of a rough drive to get to the campground—the last 12km of road is unpaved, windy, and narrow. The drive is well worth the effort, though; this DOC campground is a little slice of beachside paradise!

Things to do near Totaranui Campground
  • Day hike on the Abel Tasman track right from camp! We recommend hiking from Totaranui to Separation Point (or if you want to do a shorter hike, simply go to Mutton Cove and return from there).
  • Hang out at beautiful Totaranui Beach.
  • See entries #4 & #5 below for more fun things to do in Golden Bay.

4. Pohara Beach Top 10 Holiday Park, Golden Bay

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When you camp at the Pohara Top 10, kayaking at Tata Beach is an awesome nearby activity
  • Why it’s worth camping at: Camp by the beach in a centrally-located part of beautiful Golden Bay, with lots of off-the-beaten-path adventures nearby.
  • Type of campground: Holiday Park
  • Camping options available: Unpowered & powered tent and van/RV/caravan sites; camping cabins
  • Cost: Campsites start at $55 for two people; cabins start at $85 for two people. Discounts are available for Top 10 members.
  • Amenities: Recreation room; hot showers; free 100mb of wifi per day; camp kitchen; BBQs; laundry facilities; fish cleaning facilities; onsite cafe and camp shop; beach access

Enjoy beachfront camping at the Pohara Beach Top 10 Holiday Park, where you’ll camp within steps of a beautiful sandy beach.

Golden Bay has a lot to offer visitors, and this holiday park is in a prime location for exploring the area.

Post up your campervan, pitch your tent, or book one of the ocean-view camping cabins, and let your beach holiday begin!

Things to do near the Pohara Beach Top 10 Holiday Park
  • Go kayaking at Tata Beach! It’s such a blast—the ocean here tends to be calm and clear, and you can often spot stingrays and seals. Golden Bay Kayaks does guided tours or you can simply hire kayaks from them right at the beach. We highly recommend this activity if it’s a nice day in Golden Bay!
  • Hike to beautiful Wainui Falls. (Check the DOC website before going as it’s recently been closed due to a slip).
  • Take a jungly walk through the Grove in Takaka.
  • Grab breakfast or lunch at the Wholemeal Cafe in Takaka. They have excellent coffee, generous portions, homemade baked goods, and fresh, delicious meals.
  • Visit the stunning Te Waikoropupu (“Pupu”) Springs, the largest freshwater springs in NZ and a site of spiritual significance in Maori culture. 

  • Journey to the famous Mussel Inn for a craft beer or cider and a pot of local green shell mussels. This charming pub is seriously one of the best in the country, and they’ll often host gigs from musicians, too.
     
  • See entries #3 above & #5 below for more fun things to do in Golden Bay.

5. Collingwood Holiday Park, Golden Bay

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Wharariki Beach is one of the best day trips from the Collingwood Holiday Park
  • Why it’s worth camping at: This campground is one of the closest you can get to the remote western end of Golden Bay; don’t miss Wharariki Beach while you’re there!
  • Type of campground: Holiday Park
  • Camping options available: Unpowered & powered tent and campervan/motorhome/caravan sites; camping cabins
  • Cost: Campsites start at $30 per night for two people; cabins start at $60 per night for two people. 
  • Amenities: free hot showers; wifi; indoor and outdoor kitchens; laundry facilities; tv room

There’s a lot to do in Golden Bay, and the Collingwood Holiday Park is a great base for exploring the area.

This classic Kiwi holiday park is friendly, tidy, and in a scenic waterfront spot in the cute town of Collingwood, a historic village from the gold-rush era.

Choose from campervan and tent sites or comfy camping cabins—they have options for most budgets.

Post up at this campground for a while, and let the relaxing Golden Bay vibes put you in real vacation mode!

Things to do near the Collingwood Holiday Park
  • Visit Whararaki Beach! This remote, wild beach is one of the most beautiful in NZ, with grandiose rock formations and caves to explore, and an expansive stretch of windswept sand. If you visit in summer/early autumn, you might get to see baby seal pups playing in the tide pools—it’s incredible.
  • Grab coffee, brunch, or takeaway cabinet food at the Courthouse Cafe. This excellent cafe is in the town’s historic courthouse, and there’s a nice outdoor seating area in their lovely courtyard garden

  • There’s heaps more to do in Golden Bay—see posts #3 and #4 above for more ideas!

6. Kerr Bay Campsite, Nelson Lakes National Park

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At the Kerr Bay DOC campsite, you’ll be minutes away from stunning Lake Rotoiti
  • Why it’s worth camping at: Camp by beautiful Lake Rotoiti at this well-run DOC campsite, and hit the nearby hiking trails when you’re not relaxing by the lake.
  • Type of campground: DOC Campsite
  • Camping options available: Unpowered & powered tent and campervan/motorhome/caravan sites
  • Cost: Campsites range from $20-$25 per night per person, depending on type of site and time of year. The DOC Campsite Pass can be used except between 26 December to 8 February.
  • Amenities: cooking shelter with kitchen & cooking facilities (no pots, pans, or cutlery, though—bring your own); treated drinking water; flush toilets; hot showers ($1 token required)

Campsites don’t get much more scenic than Kerr Bay. This DOC campground is set right next to pristine Lake Rotoiti in Nelson Lakes National Park.

The Kerr Bay Campsite is nestled amongst thick beech forest, which attracts lots of native birds. It’s a peaceful, natural setting that is nearly perfect … if it weren’t for the swarms of sandflies that reside here. Bring lots of insect repellant with you!

One particularly awesome thing about this campground is that it has both powered and unpowered campsites, which is a rarity for a DOC campsite (usually, you’ll find only unpowered sites at DOC campgrounds). This means that you can power up your campervan if you want to—or book a slightly cheaper unpowered site if you don’t need electricity. You’ve got options here.

There is also a cooking shelter, fresh drinking water, and the luxury of hot showers available ($1 shower tokens required). This is truly a primo DOC camp!

Things to do near the Kerr Bay Campsite
  • Enjoy a sunset at Lake Rotoiti—it’s magical. Make sure to stop by the jetty for a photo op–and look for the massive longfin eels lurking in the water below.

Best Campsites in the Canterbury Region, Eastern/Central South Island

7. Kaikoura Top 10 Holiday Park, Kaikoura 

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Kaikoura is one of those rare places where you can see snow-capped mountains hovering above the ocean
  • Why it’s worth camping at: Kaikoura is a must-visit place on the South Island for anyone who loves the coast and wildlife, and this campground is in a good location for exploring the area.
  • Type of campground: Holiday Park
  • Camping options available: Unpowered & powered tent and campervan/motorhome/caravan sites; camping cabins
  • Cost (for 2 people): $48 per night (unpowered); $52 per night (powered); cabins start at $85 per night. Discounts are available for Top 10 members.
  • Amenities: Communal camp kitchen & bathrooms; free wifi (250 MB), BBQs, seasonal heated swimming pool; private hot tubs for hire; dump station, lots of activities for kids (playground, jumping pillow, games room).

The Kaikoura Top 10 Holiday Park is a great place to camp in Kaikoura. We usually stay in their camping cabins, but it’s also perfect for parking a campervan.

The facilities at this holiday park are top-notch, and it’s in a convenient location close to just about everything in Kaikoura. This is a particularly popular place for families, as there’s a lot for kids to do on-site.

From camp, you’ll get beautiful views of the snow-capped Kaikoura Ranges. Kaikoura is pretty special in that way—there aren’t a whole lot of places in the world where you can be by the ocean and have snowy mountains within close view! 

Things to do near the Kaikoura Top 10 Holiday Park
  • Hike the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway, one of the best coastal hikes on the South Island (and also a great place to spot NZ fur seals!)
  • Grab a craft beer and burger at Emporium Brewery. They also have mini golf and escape rooms if you need something to do on a rainy day.

  • Kaikoura is well-known for its abundance of seafood, especially crayfish. Two top spots for seafood are Coopers Catch & Nins Bin.
  • Have lunch at the Slam Club—their toasted sandwiches are delicious.

8. Akaroa Top 10 Holiday Park, Akaroa

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The stunning view from the Akaroa Top 10 Holiday Park
  • Why it’s worth camping at: Camp with ocean views at this well-run campground perched above the pretty seaside town of Akaroa.
  • Type of campground: Holiday Park
  • Camping options available: Unpowered & powered tent and campervan/motorhome/caravan sites; camping cabins
  • Cost: Campsites range from $45-65 for two people depending on the type of site and time of year; cabins start at $115 per night for 2 people. Discounts are available for Top 10 members.
  • Amenities: Fully-equipped camp kitchen; communal bathrooms; free wifi, BBQs (token-operated), seasonal heated swimming pool; dump stations; laundry facilities; playground and games/tv room; walking track to Akaroa village

Views, views, views—that’s what you’ll get at the Akaroa Top 10 Holiday Park! This campground sits up on a hill overlooking the stunning Akaroa Harbour, and lots of the campsites here have seriously epic views.

If you’re traveling in a campervan or motorhome, we recommend splurging on one of the sites with harbor views. You won’t regret it one bit when you’re sipping your evening drink while overlooking the sunset, or when you wake up to the most incredible views in the morning light.

The facilities at this holiday park are kept to high standards, so expect clean and tidy bathrooms and a spotless camp kitchen.

Besides the views, our other favorite aspect of this campground is the fact that you can walk right into the Akaroa township via a (steep) trail that starts right at camp. The location is just so good for exploring Akaroa at your leisure!

Things to do near the Akaroa Top 10 Holiday Park
  • Enjoy the scenic drive to Akaroa. The drive to Akaroa is quite possibly the best thing to do in Akaroa—you’ll get incredible views along the Banks Peninsula for most of the drive. Make sure to stop at pullouts and picnic areas along the way! We like packing a picnic to enjoy along the drive.
  • Stop at the Barry’s Bay Cheese shop in Duvauchelle on the drive in or out of Akaroa. The Four Square Supermarket in Akaroa also sells a nice selection of Barry’s Bay cheeses.
  • Pick up some Akaroa salmon for an amazing camp dinner. You can sometimes purchase Akaroa salmon in the Akaroa Harbour (check their website for details), but we like to pop into their Christchurch Factory Shop (at 89 Treffers Road, Wigram) on the drive from Christchurch to Akaroa. This is truly some of the most delicious salmon you’ll ever taste.
  • For a lovely short hike along the drive in/out of Akaroa, embark on the short walk on the Onawe Pa Track. This Maori Pa site is stunningly beautiful, with gorgeous 360 views of the Akaroa Harbour. It’s best to do this walk at low tide. 
  • Explore the adorable township of Akaroa! This quaint village has a French influence and is situated in the center of an ancient volcano, surrounded by sparkling blue water and green hills. Bring your camera and wander around the town; there are lots of cute historic houses and buildings to photograph and plenty of shops and cafes to peruse. We recommend checking out the lighthouse, too—with its white paint and red door, it looks like something out of a Wes Anderson film.
  • If a wildlife tour is up your alley, we recommend a sea kayak tour with Pohatu Penguins. You’ll have opportunities to spot little blue penguins, NZ fur seals, and Hector’s dolphins (the world’s smallest dolphin!).

9. Maruia Hot Pools Campground, Lewis Pass

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  • Why it’s worth camping at: Soak in natural hot pools and relax in the steam room and sauna at this spa-centric campground!
  • Type of campground: Private Campground
  • Camping options available: Unpowered campervan/motorhome/caravan sites & glamping pods. Technically they allow tents, but we don’t think the pitches are great for tent camping.
  • Cost: Campsites are $75 per adult. Glamping pods start at $209 for two people. Fees include use of hot pools and all other amenities over 1 night/2 days.
  • Amenities: Onsite hot pools, steam room & sauna; complementary yoga classes; bathroom; lounge room; onsite restaurant

If driving and sleeping in a campervan has your back aching, a night at Maruia Hot Pools might be just the ticket.

This camping spot is a bit more expensive than the others on this list—but the camping fee includes entrance to the amazing onsite hot pools!

The natural hot pools overlook the Maruia River and layers of beech trees in the distance. It’s a stunning setting for a soak (and a camping spot!).

In addition to the hot pools, there’s a cold plunge pool, a sauna, a steam room, and a Japanese-style onsen.

When you’ve had your fill of soaking in the mineral-rich waters, relax in the cozy lounge, take a yoga class, go for a nature walk, or dine in the cafe—which has delicious, healthy food on offer and some great local wines and beers if you want to indulge.

In addition to campervan sites, this property also has glamping pods and hotel rooms. You can supposedly camp in a tent here, but we wouldn’t really recommend it as the campsites are on rocky ground. 

Also, make sure you have insect repellent with you at camp as the sandflies are bad around these parts. There’s complimentary, all-natural sandfly repellent available at the hot pools.

Tip: If you’re on a budget, we recommend bringing your own food/drinks to make in your campervan, as the restaurant is a bit on the pricey side and there’s nothing else around (nor is there a camp kitchen). We like bringing a fancy picnic dinner with good cheese, crackers, fruit, etc. and a bit of wine to enjoy back at camp after soaking in the pools.

And another tip: If you’d prefer to tent camp, or simply want a more back-to-basics  campground, head to the nearby Marble Hill DOC Campsite—it’s just a 10-minute drive away and it’s absolutely beautiful (if you can ignore the sandflies). Then you can just visit the Maruia Hot Springs and pay for day-use entrance if you wish.

Things to do near the Maruia Hot Springs Campground
  • You won’t want to leave Maruia Springs once you’re there…just sayin’! You can easily fill a day or two with relaxing in the hot pools, steam room, and sauna; taking a yoga class; or going for easy walks around the property.
  • If you’re keen on some short walks nearby, head to the Lake Daniell Track and walk to the “Sluice Box,” which is just minutes into the trail and worth a look. Another nice short hike is the Alpine Nature Walk at the start of the St. James Walkway.

Best Campsites on the South Island’s West Coast

10. Jackson’s Retreat Alpine Holiday Park, near Arthur’s Pass

  • Why it’s worth camping at: Stay at this excellent campground before or after hiking and exploring around Arthur’s Pass.
  • Type of campground: Private Campground/Holiday Park
  • Camping options available: Unpowered & powered tent and campervan/motorhome/caravan sites; camping cabins
  • Cost (for 2 people): Unpowered campsites start at $48; powered sites start at $50; cabins start at $115.
  • Amenities: Fully-stocked communal kitchen; heated bathrooms with free showers; lounge area with a log fire in winter; onsite walking tracks and glow worms

Jackson’s Retreat Alpine Holiday Park is a wonderful place to camp if you’re traveling from Christchurch to the West Coast (or vice versa) via Arthur’s Pass.

They offer campsites for tents, campervans, and motorhomes, plus some cute cabins. For a couple, consider the “Kiwi Cabin”—it’s a cozy little camping cabin that’s just perfect for two.

There’s a lot to do and see on the drive to Jackson’s Retreat, no matter which direction you’re coming from. And once you get there, you’ll also find plenty to do right at the campground itself. It’s rated highly for good reason!

Things to do near Jackson’s Retreat Alpine Holiday Park
  • If you’re driving from Christchurch to Jackson’s Retreat (or vice versa), we recommend the following stops along the way. All of these recommendations are outdoor attractions, and all are free to visit.

    • Kura Tāwhiti / Castle Hill: Wander amongst the limestone boulders at this gorgeous place, which was used as a filming site for the Chronicles of Narnia. Bring a picnic to enjoy after exploring around!

    • Cave Stream: For adventurous travelers, Cave Stream offers something quite unique. It’s basically a hike through a river, within a cave! This is really a summertime-only activity, as you’ll be in cold water the whole time. For your own safety, make sure you don’t visit just before or after a big rainstorm. Wear grippy shoes and warm clothes that you don’t mind getting wet, and also ensure you have a headlamp on—then go have a blast!

    • Bealey Spur Track: This awesome day hike gives you one of the best views over Arthur’s Pass. The whole thing takes around 5 hours return, but we like to shorten the route by simply hiking to the first lookout and back (which takes about 3 hours round-trip). You’ll know when you get to the lookout…it’s seriously epic. 

    • Devil’s Punchbowl Waterfall: Don’t miss this stunning 131m waterfall if you’re traveling over Arthur’s Pass. The walk to the waterfall is approximately 2kms (1.2 miles) and takes between 40 minutes to one hour round-trip—do note that there are a TON of stairs to climb, so it’s short but not exactly easy. This is by far one of the best short walks in the area, though, so don’t miss it!

  • At the campground itself, check out their beautiful bush walks—especially the 40-minute (round trip) walk to their glow worm waterfall! They actually have multiple glow worm viewing locations onsite. Sunsets and star gazing are also amazing from this campsite. 

Note: Pick up groceries and fill your car with petrol/gas in Christchurch before heading over Arthur’s Pass, as you won’t find many amenities in this area. Or, if you’re heading up from the West Coast, get supplies in Hokitika.

11. Gentle Annie Campground, Mokihinui

*Top Choice*

  • Why it’s worth camping at: Quite possibly the creme de la creme of South Island campgrounds, seaside Gentle Annie Campground is well worth the out-of-the-way excursion to get there.
  • Type of campground: Private Campground/Holiday Park
  • Camping options available: Unpowered & powered tent and campervan/motorhome/caravan sites; camping cabins
  • Cost (per person): Unpowered campsites start at $16; powered campsites start at $21; cabins start at $45.
  • Amenities: drinking water; BBQ; pizza oven; kettle/jug & toaster; flush toilets & hot showers; onsite cafe selling coffees, pies & other baked goods; communal fire pit & opportunities to build your own beach bonfire with driftwood.

About 45 minutes north of Westport lies a special campground: Gentle Annie. 

While the north end of the wild West Coast highway is sure something spectacular, Gentle Annie Campground is a destination in and of itself.

Where to begin with Gentle Annie’s charms? For starters, it’s a spacious campground set between the Mokihinui River and a beautiful, driftwood-strewn beach.

You can collect driftwood on the beach to make a bonfire—sunset is really a magic time for this. There are plenty of walking opportunities close to camp. There’s a communal wood-fired pizza oven by the camp kitchen—bring your own pizza-making ingredients, or purchase supplies from the onsite Cowshed Cafe.

Look for Hector’s dolphins in the sea, and stargaze at night.

Or do absolutely nothing but enjoy your beautiful and serene surroundings!

The campground has heaps of campervan and tent sites, and they also have some great cabins and holiday homes, too. We love staying in the “Cheeky Weka” camping cabin, which is really affordable and perfect for a couple.

Things to do near the Gentle Annie Campground
  • The campground itself has heaps to do—go for a beach walk and collect gemstones and driftwood, have a bonfire, go fishing, swim in the ocean or in the river, walk the Gentle Annie Point Maze…this campground is seriously wonderful.

  • The Charming Creek Walkway is a fantastic day walk close by…but unfortunately, at the time of writing this, the trail is partially closed due to a slip. Look on the DOC website for updates.

  • Day trip up to the start of the Heaphy Track and do the day hike from Kohaihai to Scott’s Beach.

  • Visit the Oparara Arches near Karamea—they’re incredible.

  • On the drive to or from Gentle Annie, check out the seal colony at Cape Foulwind.

12. Punakaiki Beach Camp, Punakaiki

  • Why it’s worth camping at: Enjoy the wild West Coast beaches, rainforest, and famous Punakaiki Pancake Rocks while staying at this lovely, well-positioned campground.
  • Type of campground: Private Campground/Holiday Park
  • Camping options available: Unpowered & powered tent and campervan/motorhome/caravan sites; camping cabins
  • Cost: $20 per adult (unpowered site); $24 per adult (powered site); cabins start at $85 for two people.
  • Amenities: Kitchen and dining area; bathrooms with free hot showers; laundry facilities and laundry drying room; dump station

Punakaiki is one of the top places to explore on the South Island’s wild West Coast, and the Punakaiki Beach Camp is an awesome spot to base yourself from.

The campground is set between dramatic limestone cliffs and a stunning beach, and it’s surrounded by subtropical forest. With such a beautiful setting, you might have a hard time prying yourself away from camp! Sunsets from the campground are particularly spectacular…

If you can get yourself to leave the campground, though, there’s a whole lot to do in the area. Whatever you do, make sure you have insect repellant handy, as the West Coast is notorious for its sandflies.

In addition to camping sites, the campground has fantastic little camping cabins (and holiday homes) for rent.

Things to do near the Punakaiki Beach Camp
  • Explore the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks—make sure to visit at high tide, so you can see the blowholes and surge pools in action!
  • Take a short walk along the Truman Track (15-minutes one way), which takes you to an amazing hidden beach with a waterfall. Walk this track at low tide to best experience the beach.
  • Do a day hike on the Paparoa Track. For a short (1.5-hour return) walk, we recommend hiking along the Pororari River Track to the Inland Pack Track Junction.

    At the junction, turn back and retrace your steps. The Pororari River looks like it belongs in the Amazon, with its jungly rainforest and limestone cliffs—it’s gorgeous! The trailhead is right across the road from the campground, how convenient is that?!
  • Look for glow worms and stalactites in the Punakaiki Cavern, which is just a 10-minute walk from camp.

13. Ross Beach Top 10 Holiday Park, Ross Beach 

*Top Choice*

  • Why it’s worth camping at: Listen to the sounds of wild West Coast waves at night at this stunningly beautiful beachfront campsite.
  • Type of campground: Holiday Park
  • Camping options available: Unpowered & powered tent and van/RV sites; camping pods
  • Cost (for two people): $50 (unpowered site); $55 (powered site); cabins/pods start at $140
  • Amenities: Free unlimited wifi; hot showers; camp kitchen; BBQ; pizza oven; lounge/tv room; laundry facilities; playground; bike hire; beach access

Located just over 20kms south of Hokitika, the Ross Beach Top 10 Holiday Park is perfectly positioned for a stop along a West Coast road trip. 

This is one of the absolute best campsites on the South Island—it’s outstanding in every way! 

You’ll get to camp just steps away from a driftwood-strewn beach, which is perfect for making an evening beach bonfire while you watch the sunset. You can often spot seals and Hector’s dolphins from the beach, too—it’s really a magnificent spot. 

As for the campground itself, it has some of the nicest holiday park facilities we’ve ever seen. There’s a great communal camp kitchen with a pizza oven and BBQ and a comfy modern lounge area. Everything is spotlessly clean.

The campervan sites here tend to have greenery around them, so they’re more private than many other campsites in New Zealand. There’s also plenty of space for tents on the sprawling lawns.

If you’re up for a bit of a splurge, though, we highly recommend booking one of the amazing camping pods at this campground. They’re made from converted shipping containers and are just SO nice! For the best of the best, we recommend the Sunset Cabin, which comes complete with its own BBQ and outdoor bathtub—it’s amazing to soak in at night while gazing up at the stars and listening to the waves. 

To top things off, the staff at the Ross Beach Top 10 are really friendly and accommodating—you’ll feel so welcome here! We love, love, love this campground.

Things to do near the Ross Beach Top 10 Holiday Park
  • At the campground itself, we recommend heading to the beach for an evening bonfire (check with the front desk first to make sure there aren’t any fire restrictions). 

  • Visit the town of Hokitika (22kms north of Ross Beach) on the drive in or out of Ross Beach. Don’t miss getting a legendary sandwich at the Hokitika Sandwich Company.

  • Explore the Hokitika Gorge. It’s amazing and our #1 must-do in the area.

  • Check out Lake Kaniere and Dorothy Falls (there’s actually a lovely DOC campsite at Lake Kaniere, too).

  • For a real off-the-beaten-track excursion, hike to Cesspool Gorge—it’s a horrible name for a stunningly blue, beautiful river gorge. We recommend doing this adventure on a sunny day only (and bring tons of insect repellant).

  • Wander along the West Coast Treetop Walk.

14. Fox Glacier Top 10 Holiday Park, Fox Glacier

lake-matheson-south-island-new-zealand
The Lake Matheson trail is just a 10-minute drive from the Fox Glacier Top 10 Holiday Park
  • Why it’s worth camping at: Camp in the heart of New Zealand’s Glacier Country at this spotless and friendly campground, with West Coast highlights like Lake Matheson in close proximity.
  • Type of campground: Holiday Park
  • Camping options available: Unpowered & powered tent and campervan/motorhome/caravan sites; camping cabins
  • Cost (for 2 people): $45 (unpowered site); $50 (powered site); cabins start at $75 per night.
  • Amenities: 5GB free wifi (or unlimited if you’re a Top 10 member); free hot showers; laundry facilities; tv room; playground; spacious kitchen and dining area (and you can hire cooking gear from the front desk if you need it); BBQs; hot tub for hire. 

This spacious holiday park is surrounded by mountain views and clear, open skies—it’s also the perfect place to camp if you want to explore Glacier Country!

The Fox Glacier Top 10 Holiday Park is a spacious campground with heaps of campsites, plus some really great little cabins. For a couple, we particularly recommend the self-contained studio units—they’re so cozy and have everything you need, including a kitchenette and private bathroom. 

As expected from a Top 10 campground, this holiday park has top-notch amenities, including a massive communal kitchen and lounge area, free BBQs, and clean, tidy bathroom blocks.

While the facilities here are really wonderful, the #1 reason we love this campground is its proximity to Lake Matheson, an absolute highlight of the West Coast. From the campground, it’ll take you under 10 minutes to drive to the Lake Matheson carpark—this is really the closest place to camp near the walk!

There are plenty of other things to do nearby, too. So, we recommend staying at this campground for a couple of nights to make the most of the nearby attractions.

Tip: Make sure you’re stocked up on groceries as shops in Fox Glacier are limited. The closest supermarket is the Four Square in Franz Josef. Also, we recommend filling your car with petrol/gas in Franz Josef rather than Fox Glacier, as the sole gas station in Fox Glacier is incredibly expensive.

Things to do near the Fox Glacier Top 10 Holiday Park
  • Visit Lake Matheson! Seriously, don’t miss it. On a calm, clear day, this picturesque lake reflects the surrounding mountains like a mirror. The walk to and around the lake is easy and takes about one hour. Here are some tips for visiting Lake Matheson:

    • To see reflections in the lake, you’ll need to visit on a calm day with very little wind. Check the weather forecast before planning your visit.
    • We recommend timing your visit to Lake Matheson around sunrise or before sunset, as during the daytime the wind tends to pick up and clouds often obscure the mountains.
    • There are two lookouts along the lake, but for the best photo ops, head to Reflection Island.

  • View Fox Glacier. We recommend the following options:

    • Free option #1: Drive to the Peak View Lookout for a free glimpse of the glacier. The best times for viewing are early in the morning and around sunset. Bring a zoom lens if you have one for your camera, as you’ll be viewing the glacier from quite a distance.
    • Free option #2: Walk the Fox Glacier South Side Walkway. This walk takes about 1.5 hours round-trip. Make sure you go to the furthest viewpoint to get the best views of the glacier, but do note that you’ll be viewing it from afar.
    • Paid option: Go on a helihike with Fox Glacier Guiding. This is a pricey activity so it won’t be for everyone, but it’s an exceptional experience and well worth the cost if it’s within your budget.

  • At night, look for glowworms along the Minnehaha Glow Worm Walk in the Fox Glacier township. The campground has its own little glow worm walk, too!

  • Drive to Franz Josef (30 minutes north of Fox Glacier) and explore around. We recommend doing the Franz Josef Glacier Walk (30 minutes round-trip) and soaking in the Franz Josef Glacier Hot Pools (prices start at $29 per adult/$25 per child for the pools). (Note: the hot pools are temporarily closed at the time of writing this, so check their website before going).

Best Campsites in the South Island’s Mackenzie Region—Tekapo and Aoraki Mount Cook National Park

15. Lakes Edge Holiday Park, Lake Tekapo

lupin-bloom-lake-tekapo
  • Why it’s worth camping at: Stay right on the shores of beautiful Lake Tekapo at this perfectly-located campground.
  • Type of campground: Holiday Park
  • Camping options available: Unpowered & powered tent and campervan/motorhome/caravan sites; camping cabins
  • Cost (for 2 people): $50 (unpowered site); $56 (powered site); cabins start at approx. $130 per night.
  • Amenities: Lake views; free unlimited wifi; camp kitchen; BBQs; picnic area; bathrooms with hot showers; laundry facilities; dining and TV lounge area; fresh drinking water; dump station; playground

Beautiful Lake Tekapo is a must-visit place on the South Island—and the Lakes Edge Holiday Park is a great spot to camp lakeside!

The holiday park has beautiful lake views and it takes just a couple of minutes to walk down to the lake from camp. You’re also within short (about 10-minute) walking distance to the Tekapo township in one direction, and the Tekapo Hot Pools in the other direction.

We often stay in camping cabins here, but the campervan sites are awesome as well. The sites pretty much all have lake views, and the facilities at the campground are good. 

Things to do near the Tekapo Holiday Park
  • Walk along the Lake Tekapo foreshore and marvel at the stunning glacial-blue lake.
  • Spot lupins in spring! Lake Tekapo is one of the best places to see lupins in NZ. The best time of year for lupin spotting is mid-November to mid-December.
  • Eat delicious Japanese food at Kohan, which specializes in sushi made with local alpine salmon.
  • Go stargazing, either on your own or on a tour. Tekapo is part of a Dark Sky Reserve and it’s an amazing place for stargazing on a clear night!

16. Lake Pukaki Overnight Campervan Parking, Lake Pukaki 

(Self-contained vehicles only)

south-island-camping-lake-pukaki-freedom-campsite
  • Why it’s worth camping at: Camp for free at one of the most scenic campsites on the planet, with views of Lake Pukaki and Aoraki Mount Cook.
  • Type of campground: Freedom Camping Site
  • Camping options available: Unpowered campsites for *self-contained campervans/motorhomes/caravans only*
  • Cost: Free 
  • Amenities: There’s a long-drop toilet at the entrance but other than that, no amenities besides the epic views!

This campsite is in a parking lot—but it’s quite possibly the most scenic parking lot ever!

Self-contained campervans can post up overnight at this picturesque spot, which overlooks the glacially-fed blue waters of Lake Pukaki.

There are long-drop toilets at the entrance, but bring everything else you need—including drinking water. 

You’re allowed to stay at this campsite for one night at a time, and it’s first-come, first-served; we recommend getting there early in the afternoon/evening for the best chance of getting a spot.

On a clear, windless night, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better place to park your campervan!

Things to do near the Lake Pukaki Freedom Campsite
  • This campsite is conveniently located right between Lake Tekapo and Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. Here’s a suggestion for the perfect 2 days/1 night in this area:
    • Visit Lake Tekapo on your drive in (see entry #15 above for what to do in Tekapo). 
    • Then drive to Lake Pukaki and camp at the Lake Pukaki freedom campsite overnight. 
    • The next morning, head to Mount Cook National Park! Camp that night at either White Horse Hill Campsite or Glentanner—see our write-ups on these campsites below.

17. White Horse Hill Campsite, Aoraki Mount Cook National Park 

*Top Choice*

white-horse-hill-campground-mount-cook
  • Why it’s worth camping at: Located right in the heart of Aoraki Mount Cook National Park and surrounded by mountains and hiking trails, this stunning campground is the perfect base for exploring the park.
  • Type of campground: DOC Campground
  • Camping options available: Unpowered campsites for tents, campervans, motorhomes, and caravans 
  • Cost (per person): from 9 February to 25 December, it’s $15 per adult & $7.50 per child; from 26 December to 8 February, it’s $18 per adult and $9 per child. Free for children under age 4. The DOC Campsite Pass can be used here.
  • Amenities: Hiking trails at your doorstep; fresh drinking water; flush toilets; cooking shelter—note that in winter (1 June to 31 August) the water taps are turned off and only long-drop toilets are available.

Mount Cook National Park is a “must-visit” place in New Zealand, with the country’s tallest mountain peak, magnificent glaciers, and some of the best hiking trails.

So… to have a campground set right in the midst of all this is pretty spectacular!

The White Horse Hill campsite is one of the best DOC camping grounds in NZ. It’s got basic facilities (drinking water, toilets, a cooking shelter) but the views and location make it simply wonderful. You can wake up in your tent or van with mountains surrounding you, and be on an epic hiking trail within minutes (after coffee, of course).

One thing to note here: there are some cheeky resident Kea who like to swoop down on these campsites first thing in the morning to wake up campers (and attempt to steal anything shiny or edible). You’ve been warned 🙂

Tip: Make sure you bring all of the food/supplies you need with you before heading to this campground—you won’t find much in the national park. 

Things to do near the White Horse Hill DOC campsite
  • Go hiking! There are some incredible day hikes you can do right from camp. We recommend the following trails:

    • Hooker Valley Track: This easy-moderate 3-hour hike is a must-do on a clear day—it’s easily one of the best day hikes in New Zealand. On a day with good visibility, you’ll get epic views of Aoraki / Mount Cook. There are swingbridges, glacial lakes, and plenty of good picnic spots to rest at—don’t miss this hike when you’re in the national park!

    • Sealy Tarns Track: Climb over 2,000 steps to gain incredible views over Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park. This 3-hour hike has also been dubbed the “Stairway to Heaven” — the views are truly heavenly, and the stairs are a real workout! 

18. Glentanner, near Aoraki Mount Cook National Park

road-to-mount-cook-aoraki-national-park
How stunning is the drive to Glentanner and Aoraki Mount Cook National Park?!
  • Why it’s worth camping at: Camp in comfort at this holiday park right next to Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. 
  • Type of campground: Private Campground/Holiday Park
  • Camping options available: Unpowered & powered tent and campervan/motorhome/caravan sites; camping cabins
  • Cost: $25 (unpowered site) per person, $28 (powered site) per person; cabins start at $145 for 2 people.
  • Amenities: Fully-stocked camp kitchen; fresh drinking water; BBQs; indoor dining area; outside picnic area; free hot showers; laundry facilities; onsite cafe at reception.

If you’re heading to Mount Cook National Park and are looking for a fully-equipped campground with lots of amenities, then Glentanner is the spot for you. 

Glentanner is just 18kms from the entrance to Mount Cook National Park, right on Lake Pukaki in a beautiful and peaceful setting. 

The holiday park has powered and unpowered campsites, plus hot showers, laundry facilities, a well-stocked camp kitchen, and BBQs, just to name a few of the facilities on offer here.

While we do recommend bringing all of the food you’ll need while camping here, there’s also a good onsite cafe—the Tasman Delta Cafe—in case you want a break from camp cooking or just need a proper coffee.

Things to do near the Glentanner Campground

See post #17 above (White Horse Hill Campground) – we recommend doing all of the same things we mentioned there! 

Best Campsites around Wanaka and Queenstown, South Island

19. Cameron Flat Campsite, Haast Pass

blue-pools-hike-south-island-new-zealand
When you camp at the Cameron Flat DOC Campsite, you’ll be right across the road from the Blue Pools track
  • Why it’s worth camping at: Explore the many natural attractions along Haast Pass and then rest up at this scenic DOC campsite.
  • Type of campground: DOC Campground
  • Camping options available: Unpowered campsites for tents, campervans, motorhomes, and caravans
  • Cost: $10 per adult per night; $5 per child per night; free for children age 4 and under. The DOC campsite pass can be used here.
  • Amenities: Cooking shelter; long-drop toilets; water taps (untreated; boil before drinking)

Camp near the Makarora River at this beautiful DOC campsite with lots of natural attractions nearby.

The Haast Pass road is full of awesome stops, and this campground is in a great spot for exploring around the area. In particular, you’ll be right across the road (like walking distance) from a major attraction in the area: the Blue Pools!

You’ll find a cooking shelter and toilets here, but expect bare-bones facilities. Bring everything you need with you, as this is a pretty remote location.

You can pitch a tent or park a campervan at this campground—all sites are unpowered.

For the perfect evening, get to camp in the early afternoon and get situated. Then walk to the Blue Pools and hang out for as long as you want. Return to camp, make dinner, and spend the evening stargazing.

Things to do near the Cameron Flat Campsite
  • As mentioned above, walk to the Blue Pools! These stunning blue pools of glacial water are a beautiful sight to see. The walk to get to the pools is along an easy, beech-tree-lined path, and takes just 20-30 minutes each way.

20. Kidd’s Bush Reserve Campsite, Lake Hawea 

lake-hawea-south-island-new-zealand
Beautiful Lake Hawea—photo by Kevin McCutcheon 
  • Why it’s worth camping at: At this DOC campsite, you’ll be close enough to Wanaka to enjoy its highlights, but you can get away from the crowds and into nature—the best of both worlds!
  • Type of campground: DOC Campground
  • Camping options available: Unpowered campsites for tents, campervans, motorhomes & caravans
  • Cost: $10 per adult per night; $5 per child per night; free for children age 4 and under. The DOC Campsite Pass can be used here.
  • Amenities: Toilets (non-flush); water taps (untreated; boil before drinking – also, these get turned off in winter); cooking shelter; lake access

There are commercial campgrounds available near Lake Wanaka (see #20 above for one suggestion), but if you’re looking for a more natural setting, then head to Kidd’s Bush Reserve Campsite.

This peaceful DOC campground sits on the shores of Lake Hawea, just off “the Neck”—a land bridge between Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea.

With Lake Hawea at your doorstep, beech trees to provide shade, mountains to gaze up at, and plenty of hikes nearby, this is an awesome place to set up camp, whether you’re in a campervan or tent.

Things to do near the Kidd’s Bush Reserve Campsite
  • Hike up Isthmus Peak (hard; 5-7 hour return). A lot of people prefer hiking Isthmus Peak over Roy’s Peak, as it’s less crowded (but note that it’s equally difficult!).
  • Visit Wanaka—see #21 below for things to do in Wanaka!
  • Drive to Haast Pass and check out the Blue Pools and the Haast Pass waterfalls—see #19 above for more info on these attractions.

21. Wanaka Top 10 Holiday Park, Wanaka

best-south-island-hikes-roys-peak
The Wanaka Top 10 Holiday Park is a great base for exploring Wanaka’s attractions, like Roy’s Peak
  • Why it’s worth camping at: Explore the wonderful resort town of Wanaka at your leisure while staying at this excellent campground.
  • Type of campground: Holiday Park
  • Camping options available: Unpowered & powered tent and campervan/motorhome/caravan sites; camping cabins
  • Cost: Unpowered campsites start at $28 per person; powered sites start at $30 per person; cabins start around $105 for two people.
  • Amenities: Communal kitchen & lounge; BBQs; bathrooms with underfloor heating; drying room for snow gear; playground & trampoline; carwash & vacuum; hot tub and sauna for hire; bikes for hire. 

If you’re after a campground near the lovely lakeside town of Wanaka, look no further than the Wanaka Top 10 Holiday Park.

This well-run campground is close to the town center and has great facilities—including a sauna, which is so relaxing after a day of hiking or skiing in Wanaka!

The Wanaka Top 10 also has free unlimited WiFi, a hot tub and sauna for hire…and just overall top-notch facilities.

Choose from campervan and tent sites, cabins, and motel-style units.

Things to do near the Wanaka Top 10 Holiday Park
  • Hang out at Lake Wanaka! Go swimming, hire kayaks or SUPs, chill out with a book under the willows, go for a lakeside stroll…or all of the above.
  • Wander around Wanaka and pop into any cafes and restaurants that strike your fancy. We recommend the following places:

22. Driftaway Campground, Frankton, Queenstown

best-south-island-campsites-driftaway-holiday-park-queenstown
  • Why it’s worth camping at: With modern, spotless facilities and a fabulous lakeside location, Driftaway is Queenstown camping at its best.
  • Type of campground: Private Campground/Holiday Park
  • Camping options available: Unpowered & powered tent and campervan/motorhome/caravan sites; camping cabins
  • Cost: Campsites start at $35 per person; cabins start around $130 for 2 people.
  • Amenities: Lake views; a super nice camp kitchen; free unlimited high-speed wifi; modern bathrooms; lounge area; playground; laundry facilities; hot tubs for hire

Driftaway is the creme de la creme of Queenstown campgrounds. This brand-new campground is located on the sunny Frankton arm, right on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. 

Choose from campervan or tent campsites, or beautiful camping cabins—all with gorgeous lake views.

It’s a 10-minute drive from the campground into the Queenstown township, a 10-minute drive to the Frankton shops (where the best grocery stores/supermarkets are), and less than a 10-minute drive to/from the Queenstown airport. Basically, this campground is in a great spot! 

The facilities at Driftaway are a cut above the rest. They have a modern camp kitchen and bathrooms, BBQs, and private hot tubs for hire. 

If you’re looking for a nice and modern campground in Queenstown, this will be the perfect spot for you. 

Things to do near the Driftaway Campground
  • Go swimming at Frankton Beach—it’s right at the campground’s doorstep.
  • Walk along the Frankton Track—this fantastic walking and biking trail skirts around Lake Wakatipu and it’s just steps away from camp. From the campground, head left to go towards the Kelvin Peninsula (which is stunning), or right to walk towards the Queenstown town center. If you do the latter, make sure to stop by Altitude Brewery or the Boatshed Cafe in the Frankton Marina!
  • If you want a fun, car-free way to get into town, walk to the Frankton Marina along the Frankton Track (mentioned above), and catch the water taxi into town from there.
  • The campground is a great base for doing all kinds of activities in Queenstown. From Queenstown’s hiking trails to its adventure activities to all of the restaurants and bars on offer, you certainly won’t get bored!

23. Moke Lake Campsite, near Queenstown

moke-lake-campground-queenstown
Moke Lake photo by About Maps
  • Why it’s worth camping at: Relax in nature at this tranquil lakeside campsite just 20 minutes from bustling Queenstown.
  • Type of campground: DOC Campsite
  • Camping options available: Unpowered tent and campervan/motorhome/caravan sites
  • Cost (per person): $15 per adult; $7.50 per child; free for children age 4 and under. DOC campsite pass can be used here.
  • Amenities: Cooking shelter; toilets (non-flush); water taps (water should be boiled before drinking, and taps are turned off in winter)

If you’re ready to go off-grid after indulging in some of Queenstown’s exhilarating activities, then head over to Moke Lake campsite. It’s just 20 minutes away from New Zealand’s adventure capital, but feels a world away.

You’ll get to camp right by scenic Moke Lake, which is ringed in picturesque mountains and feels truly peaceful. There’s no cell service out this way; it’s the perfect excuse to hide away your phone and unplug for a while.

Things to do near the Moke Lake Campsite
  • Go kayaking or fishing if you have your own gear with you.
  • Spend a day exploring Queenstown!

24. Sylvan Campsite, Glenorchy

  • Why it’s worth camping at: Nature enthusiasts will love staying at this pretty, peaceful campsite near Glenorchy with awesome hiking trails close by.
  • Type of campground: DOC Campground
  • Camping options available: Unpowered campsites for tents, campervans, motorhomes and caravans
  • Cost (per person): $15 per adult; $7.50 per child; free for children age 4 and under. DOC Campsite Pass can be used here.
  • Amenities: Toilets (non-flush); water taps (water should be boiled before drinking, and taps are turned off in winter)

The Sylvan DOC Campsite is a bit of a hidden gem. This basic but scenic campground is located super close to the start of the popular Routeburn Track, but not many people know about this spot. If you’re looking for something off-the-beaten-track and near awesome hikes, then you’ll love the Sylvan Campsite. 

The campground is nestled in a valley amongst beech forest, next to a crystal-clear river (the Routeburn) and surrounded by mountains. It’s a peaceful, beautiful place. 

Make sure you have insect repellant handy, though, as sandflies do frequent here. 

Things to do near the Sylvan Campsite
  • Hike! And then hike some more! Here are some awesome hikes nearby:
    • Lake Sylvan Track (easy, 1 hour 45 mins)
      • This underrated hike starts right from the campground, and shouldn’t be missed if you camp here. We recommend doing the tramline loop; go counter-clockwise. Enjoy the beautiful beech forest, birdsong, and pretty Lake Sylvan.
    • Routeburn Track Day Hike (moderate-hard, 4-6 hours)
      • For one of the best day hikes in the general Queenstown area, head to the Routeburn Track for a day hike. We recommend hiking to Routeburn Falls if you can—this 6-hour hike is spectacular, albeit quite tiring. If you’re not up for that long of a hike, then shorten your walk by hiking to Routeburn Flats and back (4 hours round-trip).
    • Lake Rere Loop (moderate, 4-6 hours)
      • Another underrated hike in the area, the Lake Rere Loop is a fantastic day walk if you want to get away from crowds. Highlights include beech forest, alpine meadows, the emerald Greenstone River, and remote Lake Rere. We recommend doing this loop hike counter-clockwise for the best experience.

Tip: Pick up groceries & fill up your car with petrol/gas in Queenstown before heading out to camp in Glenorchy. There aren’t many shops in Glenorchy.

Best Campsites in Te Anau & the Milford Sound Area, South Island

25. Te Anau Lakeview Kiwi Holiday Park & Motels, Te Anau

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The Te Anau Lakeview Kiwi Holiday Park is right near the shores of Lake Te Anau—photo by Melanie Dretvic 
  • Why it’s worth camping at: This well-run holiday park is perfectly situated for exploring Te Anau and Fiordland. 
  • Type of campground: Holiday Park
  • Camping options available: Unpowered & powered tent and campervan/motorhome/caravan sites; camping cabins
  • Cost (for two people): Campsites start at $45 for an unpowered site and $48 for a powered site; cabins start at $70.
  • Amenities: Modern bathrooms and kitchens; BBQs; laundry facilities; drying room for gear; free wifi, dump station; TV lounges; playground; picnic tables; hot tub for hire; onsite takeaway cafe

The cute lakefront town of Te Anau is the gateway to Fiordland National Park. It’s a great place to post up camp and explore the surrounding area.

The Te Anau Lakeview Kiwi Holiday Park is our pick of the bunch as far as Te Anau campsites go. It’s in a peaceful lakefront location just 1.5kms from town and has lots of amenities, including free wifi, a camp kitchen and BBQs, and an onsite cafe with takeaways for those nights when you just don’t feel like turning on the camp stove.

Tip: If you’re planning to explore the Milford Sound area, you may want to consider camping in Te Anau and then day-tripping to Milford Sound. The sandflies are much less prolific in Te Anau than in the Milford Sound area. That being said, camping around Milford Sound is arguably more scenic…so we’ll leave that difficult choice up to you!

Things to do near the Te Anau Lakeview Kiwi Holiday Park
  • Do a day hike on the Kepler Track, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks. We recommend hiking from Rainbow Reach to Shallow Bay and back; it’s one of our favorite day hikes on the South Island.
  • Fuel yourself up for adventures (or reward yourself after!) with some awesome food in Te Anau. We recommend the following cafes and restaurants:

26. Milford Sound Lodge Rainforest Campervan Park, Milford Sound

*Campervans only*

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The Milford Sound Lodge Rainforest Campground is the closest campsite to Milford Sound
  • Why it’s worth camping at: Camp amongst the rainforest in the only campground at Milford Sound, one of New Zealand’s most epic natural attractions.
  • Type of campground: Private Campground/Holiday Park
  • Camping options available: Powered campsites for self-contained campervans and motorhomes (no tents or caravans allowed at this spot)
  • Cost: $35 per person per night 
  • Amenities: 24-hour guest kitchen; 24-hour lounge area; bathrooms; laundry facilities; wifi for purchase. 

There’s only one place to camp at Milford Sound, and that’s the Milford Sound Rainforest Campervan Park—but if you can snag a campsite, do it!

This campground is more expensive than most of the others on this list, and it’s for campervans only—no tents or caravans are allowed, unfortunately. But the location is what you pay for here.

When camping here, you’ll be within a 30-ish-minute walking distance to the Milford Sound boat terminal, or have the option to catch a complimentary shuttle from the lodge. This means you can keep your campervan parked up at the campground and not have to deal with the limited parking available at the boat terminal.

The campground has powered sites, plus a camp kitchen, bathrooms with hot showers, and an indoor lounge for campers.

Make sure you’ve stocked up on supplies in Te Anau (including food and insect repellant!) before heading out here, as you won’t find any shops out this way. Also, come prepared knowing that the sandflies in Fiordland are truly, honestly horrific, sorry to say.

If you plan to camp at this spot, you’ll want to ensure you book a space far in advance—it’s extremely popular and is often booked out.

Things to do near the Milford Sound Lodge Rainforest Campervan Park
  • Enjoy the drive to Milford Sound! It’s one of the best drives in the whole country. 
  • Keep your eyes peeled for kea, New Zealand’s mischievous alpine parrot.
  • Get a photo on the famous Milford Sound swing.

27. Cascade Creek Campsite, Milford Road, Fiordland National Park

south-island-campsites-cascade-creek-doc-campground
  • Why it’s worth camping at: This spacious campground is the closest DOC campsite to Milford Sound, and is surrounded by lush beech forest and beautiful mountains.
  • Type of campground: DOC Campground
  • Camping options available: Unpowered campsites for tents, campervans, motorhomes, and caravans 
  • Cost: $15 per adult; $7.50 per child; free for children age 4 and under. The DOC Campsite Pass can be used here.
  • Amenities: Toilets (non-flush); fire pits for campfires (not to be used when a fire ban is in place); cooking shelter. You can collect water from the stream here, but make sure to boil/treat it before drinking. 

There are several DOC campgrounds on the road to Milford Sound, but we think the Cascade Creek Campsite is the best one. Stay here if you can’t get a spot at the Milford Sound Lodge Campground (mentioned above), or if you have a caravan or tent rather than a campervan.

The campground is in a beautiful wide-open space next to a creek, surrounded by mountains and beech trees. You can camp in a campervan or tent here, and there are some designated fire pits for having a campfire (only when there are no fire bans in place, and only in the designated spots). 

This is a huge campground with well over 100 sites, so do expect crowds on a typical summer day. 

We must say…if it weren’t for Fiordland’s prolific sandflies, this campground would be pretty perfect! Come prepared for the sandflies, and you’ll have a great time. 

Things to do near the Cascade Creek Campsite

See entry #26 above—do all of the same things we’ve mentioned there!

Best Campsites in the Catlins, South Island

28. Purakaunui Bay (PK Bay) Campsite, the Catlins

*Top Choice*

south-island-campgrounds-purakaunui-bay-doc-campsite-catlins-new-zealand
  • Why it’s worth camping at: Camp beachside at an iconic Catlins surf beach (which is also home to sea lions!)
  • Type of campground: DOC Campground
  • Camping options available: Unpowered campsites for tents, campervans, motorhomes, and caravans.
  • Cost: $10 per adult; $5 per child; free for children age 4 and under. The DOC Campsite Pass can be used at this campground. 
  • Amenities: Toilets (non-flush); fire pits for campfires (not to be used when a fire ban is in place); water taps (boil or treat before drinking).

At the Purakaunui Bay DOC campsite, you’ll be just steps away from the sand, surf, and sea lions at a stunning Catlins beach. With views of golden sand and dramatic cliff faces, you won’t tire of admiring your surroundings here. 

In fact, this place is so striking that it was used as a filming site in the Chronicles of Narnia movies (the castle Cair Paravel was CGI’d onto the cliffs here).

There are a lot of amazing camping grounds in the Catlins, but this one is a standout.

PK Bay is a wild and untouched campsite that’s perfect for those looking for an off-grid camping experience near the sea. The facilities are minimal here (long drop toilets, untreated water taps) but if you like getting away from it all and enjoy rustic camping, then you’ll love it here. 

Surfers in particular will be in heaven, as will wildlife enthusiasts—you’re likely to encounter NZ sea lions here and may even be lucky enough to spot some whales.

Campfires are sometimes allowed here, too, which is a rarity in NZ! Make sure to bring your own firewood and check fire bans before you go.

It’s worth noting that this campsite is popular, especially in the summer months, so do expect to have other people around.

That being said, this is, without a doubt, one of the best DOC campsites on the South Island.

Tip: Remember to keep your distance from any sea lions you come across. They’re territorial and do not like being approached.

Things to do near the Purakaunui Bay Campsite
  • Hang out at Purakaunui Beach. Honestly…on a nice day, you will not want to leave!
  • Visit the stunning Purakaunui Falls, one of the most photogenic waterfalls in New Zealand
  • Grab a coffee at Lost Gypsy Gallery in Papatowai and explore the artistic curiosities that abound.

29. Newhaven Holiday Park, the Catlins

*Top Choice*

cannibal-bay-sea-lion-catlins-new-zealand
The Newhaven Holiday Park is right near Surat Bay and Cannibal Bay, two of the best places to spot sea lions
  • Why it’s worth camping at: This friendly, family-run holiday park is located right next to a gorgeous Catlins beach with great opportunities for spotting wildlife.
  • Type of campground: Private Campground/Holiday Park
  • Camping options available: Unpowered & powered tent and campervan/motorhome/caravan sites; camping cabins
  • Cost (for 2 people): $35 (unpowered site); $45 (powered site); cabins start at $85.
  • Amenities: Camp kitchen; BBQs; bathrooms with hot showers ($2 for 7 minutes); free wifi; laundry facilities; lounge area. Note: there’s a dumping station and fresh water filling station in nearby Owaka, so campers should use those facilities before arriving at camp.

At Newhaven Holiday Park, you get to camp right by a wild Catlins beach—Surat Bay—with the chance to see rare New Zealand sea lions.

This family-run holiday park has such a lovely feel to it. There are cozy little cabins and some awesome spots to park a campervan—site #1, in particular, is a primo ocean-view camping spot!

From camp, it takes just a minute to walk to beautiful Surat Bay Beach, a 3km stretch of sand. The beach is easiest to walk on at low tide, but beware of those sea lions—they’re territorial and can give beach-goers quite the scare! If you spot any sea lions, give them a wide berth.

Things to do near Newhaven Holiday Park
  • Walk from Surat Bay to Cannibal Bay. This is a nice, long beach walk, best done at low tide. Cannibal Bay is another great place to spot NZ sea lions.
  • Visit Nugget Point. The short and easy lighthouse walk at Nugget Point is an absolute must-do when you’re in the Catlins. The lighthouse is perched on a picturesque headland surrounded by little islands (the “nuggets”). There are tons of seabirds in the area, and lots of fur seals. Don’t forget your camera!
  • Walk along the Jack’s Blowhole Track. The blowhole isn’t actually all that impressive, but the walk is stunning!
  • See entries #28 above and #30 below for more things to do in the Catlins.

30. Curio Bay Campground, the Catlins

  • Why it’s worth camping at: Camp right between two of the Catlins’ most amazing natural attractions: Curio Bay and Porpoise Bay.
  • Type of campground: Private Campground
  • Camping options available: Unpowered & powered tent and campervan/motorhome/caravan sites
  • Cost (for 2 people): Campsites start around $40 for unpowered sites & $50 for powered sites
  • Amenities: Bathrooms with coin-operated showers; kitchen; water taps (but it doesn’t taste very good—we’d bring your own for drinking); onsite cafe; beach access. In all honesty, this campground has super basic facilities and you’re really paying for the awesome location.

Sometimes, a campground is a worthy destination simply because of its location—and that’s the case with the Curio Bay Campground.

The facilities at this campground are quite basic, but the location is second to none. You’ll get to camp within walking distance of two special bays: Porpoise Bay and Curio Bay.

You might be wondering why these bays are worth a visit, so here goes!

At Porpoise Bay, you’ll get a chance to spot rare Hector’s dolphins—these tiny dolphins are playful and just so cute. You can watch them surf in the waves and jump out of the water. 

The best secret, though, is that you can also go swimming at Porpoise Bay (bring a wetsuit, it’s freezing), and the dolphins may come right up to check you out. Please, please make sure to not approach the dolphins and keep a respectful distance—but let us tell you, this will be an experience to remember!

The other bay right by camp—Curio Bay—is home to a petrified forest AND yellow-eyed penguins. Your best chance of spotting a penguin is at dawn and dusk, so camping right nearby gives you the easiest way to accomplish this. 

From camp, you can wander over to the penguin-viewing area in the morning with a coffee in hand, or head over before sundown with another beverage of choice. Make sure to bring some binoculars with you, too, as they’re really helpful for spotting the penguins as they march in or out of the ocean.

Note that this campground gets hit hard with wind, so if blustery weather is in the forecast, you might want to head somewhere else and return to this one another day.

Things to do near the Curio Bay Campground
  • See entries #28 & #29 above for more ideas on things to do in the Catlins.

Best Campsites in Dunedin and the South Island’s Lower East Coast

31. Warrington Domain Freedom Camping, Dunedin

canoe-beach-dunedin
Canoe Beach is a stunning place close to the Warrington Domain Campsite
  • Why it’s worth camping at: Camp by a beautiful beach north of Dunedin with wildlife-spotting opportunities and coastal walks nearby.
  • Type of campground: Freedom Campsite; suitable for all vehicles
  • Camping options available: Unpowered campsites for tents, campervans, motorhomes, and caravans—two night maximum stay for all campers.
  • Cost: Free!
  • Amenities: Drinking water; beach access; toilets onsite from November to April

This awesome free(!) campsite is just under 30 minutes north of Dunedin. Located right by the stunning Blueskin Bay and a gorgeous long sandy beach, this campground is an awesome place to camp if you like being by the ocean.

While most freedom camping spots in NZ are for self-contained campervans only, this campground lets all campers stay here, whether you’re in a tent, a non-self-contained vehicle, or a self-contained van. You just need to follow the signage and camp in the correct designated area. Many thanks to the local council for making this wonderful campground available to all!

Because this spot is free, and because it’s in an awesome location, it does fill up quite quickly—especially in the summer months. So to avoid disappointment, try to get there earlier in the day and have a backup plan in case the campsite is full.

There’s a lot to do in this area— and many nearby activities are a bit “off-the-beaten-track,” which can be a welcome respite if you’ve just come from the more touristy areas like Queenstown. 

Things to do near the Warrington Domain Freedom Camping spot
  • Walk, relax, or swim at Warrington Beach—and keep your eyes peeled for dolphins out in the water!
  • Explore the beaches near Blueskin Bay. We highly recommend visiting Doctor’s Point and Canoe Beach at low tide. Doctor’s Point is Dunedin’s version of the Coromandel’s famous Cathedral Cove!
  • Grab a beer at the awesome Arc Brewing Co. in Blueskin Bay. They’re open Friday-Sunday and often have visiting food trucks.
  • Walk in the Orokonui Ecosanctuary and spot native birds. You can either take a guided tour or do a self-guided walk—the latter option costs $20 per adult and $10 per child for all-day access to the ecosanctuary. This place is really wonderful for wildlife enthusiasts—it reminds us of Zealandia in Wellington, which we equally love to visit!
  • Day trip to Karitane Beach, a local-favorite beach for surfing and swimming. There’s an awesome short, history-filled hike here, too—the Huriawa Pa Walk—that not many people know about. Bring a picnic with you to enjoy at the beach after your walk.
  • There’s so much to do in Dunedin, too—like way too much to list here. Some highlights include visiting the Otago Peninsula, hiking to Tunnel Beach, and visiting the outstanding Otago Museum

32. Moeraki Boulders Holiday Park, Hampden

moeraki-boulders-beach
  • Why it’s worth camping at: This beachside campground is located just north of the iconic Moeraki Boulders Beach, and there’s lots to do nearby.
  • Type of campground: Holiday Park
  • Camping options available: Unpowered & powered tent and campervan/motorhome/caravan sites; retro caravans; camping cabins 
  • Cost (for two people): $28 for unpowered sites & $42 for powered sites; retro caravans start at $60; camping cabins start at $85. 
  • Amenities: Fully-equipped camp kitchen; BBQs; bathrooms with free hot showers; laundry facilities; lounge room; trampoline; beach access.

Located in Hampden just north of the Moeraki Boulders Beach, this charming campground is a wonderful place to spend a seaside camping holiday.

The Moeraki Boulders Holiday Park has some excellent ocean-view campsites and you can walk to the beach right from camp.

This campground has a nice, family-friendly vibe, and you can fall asleep to the sound of the ocean…ahhh.

From the campground, you can walk along the beach for about 25 minutes (one-way) to reach the famous Moeraki Boulders. 

On a clear night, there’s good star gazing from camp. During the day, the beach is nice for swimming and if you’re lucky, you might spot rare Hector’s dolphins in the bay.

There’s a lot to do in this area—spend a night or two here and do some relaxing and exploring!

Things to do near the Moeraki Boulders Holiday Park
  • Wander along the Moeraki Boulders Beach. This famous NZ beach is strewn with spherical boulders that look like dinosaur eggs! Visit at low tide to best spot them. From camp, a 25-minute stroll down the beach will lead you there (or you can drive 5 minutes down the road to get there, too).
  • Enjoy a meal at Vanessa’s Cottage Cafe in Hampden. They do great homemade pies and fish & chips, amongst many other delicious options.
  • Visit the adorable village of Moeraki. While there, make sure to enjoy an amazing locally-caught seafood meal at either Fleur’s Place and/or the Fishwife. Fleur’s place is a world-renowned seafood restaurant with beautiful meals, while the Fishwife has incredible fish & chips (and crayfish!). (Note: at the time of writing this, Fleur’s is temporarily closed, but fingers crossed it reopens soon).
  • Look for penguins and seals at Katiki Point. This is one of the best free places to see yellow-eyed penguins in NZ! Go at sunrise or sunset for the best chance of seeing penguins; the seals are there all day long, so you really can’t miss them 😉

Thanks for Reading our Guide to the Best South Island Campsites!

And there you have it—32 of the best campsites to help you make the most of your South Island adventures. 

Happy Camping on the South Island!

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4 Comments

  1. I am driving Rooftop tent 4WD, not sure can I camp overnight at Lake Tekapo Freedom Campsite? Can I get some advise? Thanks

    1. Hi there Sy!

      Do you mean the Lake Pukaki Freedom Campsite? If so, then no, you won’t be able to camp there in a rooftop tent, unfortunately. Only self-contained campervans/motorhomes (with their own toilet inside the vehicle) can camp there. However, don’t worry: there are plenty of other campsites nearby!

      If you want to camp at Lake Tekapo, the best campsite is the Lake Tekapo Holiday Park. If you’d prefer to be closer to Mount Cook National Park, then I recommend the White Horse Hill DOC campsite, or the Glentanner Campground (which is about 20 minutes outside of Mount Cook National Park, and is right next to Lake Pukaki).

      You can read more about the above campsites in sections #15, 17, & 18 in the guide.

      I hope that helps and let me know if you have any other questions!

  2. Thanks for your wonderful guide. To deal with mosquitoes in North America are usually cover all my body parts and wear a head net. Do you have any other suggestions for sandflies? I worry about them getting in and out of my camper van. Also any suggestions for top camp Grounds for birdwatching.

    1. Hi Joe!

      Thanks for your comment—I’m really glad to hear you found the guide helpful!

      When it comes to sandfly-prone areas, covering up is the best call. Don’t forget to cover your ankles with socks, too—they always seem to go for the ankles! I’ve never needed to wear a head net here in NZ, but if it fits in your luggage than it won’t hurt to have. I also recommend picking up some insect repellant—it’s available at almost all supermarkets here. There’s a natural brand called “Goodbye Sandfly” that I quite like.

      The places where sandflies are the worst are the West Coast, Fiordland (the Milford Sound area), any of the passes (Haast, Arthur’s, and Lewis Passes), and past Glenorchy. Other than that, though, they shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

      Will your campervan have a kitchen inside of it, or in the back of the vehicle (where you have to open the boot/trunk to access it?). If it’s the latter, I’d plan for some easy no-cook picnic-style meals when camping in sandfly-prone areas. That way you won’t have to leave the back of the car open to cook. Most campervan hire companies also include screens or nets for the windows (check with your campervan company on this, though).

      For campsites with bird-watching opportunities, I recommend Okarito Campground (West Coast), Kerr Bay DOC campsite (Nelson Lakes), Moeraki Boulders Holiday Park (visit nearby Katiki Point to look for yellow-eyed penguins), and the Curio Bay Campsite (yellow-eyed penguins live there).

      If you camp anywhere near a forest, though, you’ll likely be able to see and hear birds. Hearing morepork (small brown owls) at night is one of my favourite things about camping on the South Island! 🙂

      Hope that helps, and have a great time on your camping trip!

      Cheers,
      Jac

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