The DOC-run Holdsworth Campground is kiwi camping at its best: this spot is no-frills but with all the essentials, set in a beautiful wilderness area but easy for all to enjoy and access. On our first visit here, we’ve already decided that it’s our favourite place to camp in the Wellington region – and it’s just two hours from the CBD of New Zealand’s capital city.
Set beneath the looming Tararua mountain range with heaps of spacious, grassy, bush-lined campsites (and a couple of clear, cool creeks running throughout), this spot is really a pleasant place to be.
The campground has plenty of room and is great for groups, couples or solo travellers – take your pick from sites out in the open, or those with more privacy. It’s great for either tents or campervans. We recommend just driving around a bit until you find your perfect spot.
The facilities, while basic, are all you really need for a nice camping getaway; there are no showers, powered sites, or barbecues, but there are covered shelters with picnic tables, long-drop toilets, and taps around with fresh drinking water.
Fees are just $8.00 per adult, and $4.00 per child. The camp host is super friendly and will give you tips on the area if you just ask. There are a couple of fire pits around the campground and collecting firewood (from non-living trees!) is permitted, but check with the camp host first as there are seasonal fire bans at times.
It’s the perfect place to bask in the sun with a book and beer in hand – but also a great starting point for some awesome adventures, including the 3-day Mount Holdsworth – Jumbo circuit (which we haven’t had a chance to do yet but really want to!).
We did some more mellow activities in the area – when we first arrived it was a super warm afternoon, so after setting up camp we found a couple of sweet little swimming holes and took icy-cold dips (there’s a nice spot just across from the Holdsworth Lodge, a five minute walk up the trail from the main campground).
After swimming, then roasting sausages over an open fire and listening to the melody of bird calls, we fell asleep in our tent, without a rain fly, under a clear starry sky.
The next day, we hiked up the Gentle Annie track to the Rocky Lookout. This walk takes about 1-1.5 hours of moderate hiking, mostly under the shade of the bush, to get up to the lookout, where you’ll find one of the best viewpoints in the entire Wairarapa region – you’ll stand over a canopy of trees and layers of mountains, and the uphill slog will be all worth it! We absolutely loved this track, from the beech and fern trees; to the fantails, tuis and wild parakeets – it’s the perfect way to get a good workout in while enjoying some of New Zealand’s fine scenery.
We went to the Holdsworth Campground over a regular two-day weekend, and left feeling so refreshed and invigorated – with no cell coverage and heaps of natural beauty, it makes for the best tech/work/everyday life detox.