New Zealand is well-known for it’s stunning coastlines, pristine forests and rolling landscapes. As a result, camping is an essential part of any kiwi summer experience.
But while many escape the cities to camp in New Zealand’s most iconic destinations – some of the North Island’s most beautiful camping spots are actually within an hour’s drive of Auckland’s CBD.
Imagine campsites alongside the rugged and raw West Coast beaches, waking to the sound of the mighty Atlantic Ocean slamming into the coastline. Or sometimes, waking up to incredible peeling waves as the salt spray turns into a glittering sunrise.
Below are some of the best camping areas in Auckland – managed by the local council so the facilities are top notch!
South East: Tapapakanga Regional Park
Expect to see rare native seabirds and farm animals in equal measures. In particular, whiteface herons, oystercatchers, tui, kereru and kingfisher are all native birds commonly seen in the area.
Tapapakanga Regional Park is located on the East Coast, south of Auckland, at the entrance to the Firth of Thames. There are two campgrounds to choose from – one on the ridge top overlooking the ocean and the other, absolute beachfront.
The beachfront location is perfect for those camping with kayaks, and the sheltered white sand beach is a calm spot perfect for those with kidlets. For the more adventurous, check out the mountain biking and walking trails nearby.
North: Wenderholm Regional Park
This easily accessible park is great for day trips as well as overnight camping if you’re thinking of heading north. Wenderholm is surrounded by water, making it very popular with kayakers and swimmers in the summer months.
Hire a kayak and explore the local river before ending up in the Historical Bohemian village of Puhoi; or set out on a native forest walk for fantastic views from the headland out across the Hauraki Gulf.
After dark, glow worms and weta’s come alive along the many walking tracks throughout the park – take a night bush walk if you dare and experience these unique New Zealand creatures up close.
The camp ground is located near an estuary and a short walk from the overnight car park. Although this park is busy during daylight hours, it’s normally a lovely quiet spot to spend the night.
West: Waitakere Ranges Regional Park
The Waitakere Ranges are my most favourite part of Auckland and are home to some of the most spectacular beaches in New Zealand.
In particular, visit Karekare – a coast community within this park that is less commonly known than nearby Piha and thus, has less crowds. The local beach was the stage for one of new Zealand’s most well-known films, The Piano. Marvel at the black iron sand and hike the surrounding hills for lush native bush and breathtaking sea views.
Or for a more adventurous experience, visit Karekare and the Waitakere Ranges as part of the Hillary Trail – and incredible multi-day hike.
At the entrance to Karekare Beach are two campsites – one easily accessible next to the roadside, the other a short walk from the carpark on route to the beach. An overnight stay at Karekare is an experience you’ll never forget – a wild surf beach on one side with native bush all around. Bliss!
What sort of facilities will I find in these parks?
The facilities at all Auckland Regional Parks are basic so you’ll need to be self sufficient. Tents are the most fun option, but some also have cabins available for hire.
While many parks have coin operated barbeques, we recommend you take your own gas cooker if you don’t want to miss out on a hot meal – over the summer months, large groups can book out the picnic areas in advance (Wenderholm is a very popular spot for day time picnics and early evening barbecues). If you’re staying in the Waitakere Ranges there are also cafes and restaurants nearby that have some quality grub!
To find out more about camping in Auckland and wider New Zealand, visit the Department of Conservation website.