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7 Top Recreational Camping Spots in the North Island

When it comes to camping, New Zealand is truly blessed with an amazing variety of locations. Whether you are searching for golden sunsets, star filled nights, great surf breaks, lakes, rivers, beaches or mountains, Aotearoa has it all.

Camping is a cost effective and fun way to take the whole family on holiday this summer, best of all you'll create great memories while you do it. Here's our 7 top spots from the North Island for this summer.

Get out there and pitch a tent stat!

1. Whatuwhiwhi Top 10 Holiday Park, Karikari Peninsula, Northland

Photo credit: Whatuwhiwhitop10.co.nz

The Whatuwhiwhi Holiday Park overlooks Doubtless Bay on the Karikari Peninsula, arguably home to some of New Zealand's most picturesque white sand beaches. This campsite is a hop, skip and a jump to Parakerake Beach which sitting adjacent to the massive horseshoe shaped Tokerau Beach. The area is a fishing and diving paradise, a perfect place to relax and unwind over the summer break. There are plenty of places to launch the boat and lots of safe swimming beaches for the kids. There are some notable nearby attractions such as Ninety Mile Beach, Cape Reinga, and the mighty sand dunes of Te Paki. If you feel like escaping the elements, try a round of golf at the world class Carrington Golf Course or maybe enjoy a glass of wine at the Karikari Estate Winery. Whatuwhiwhi is a true gem in the winterless North.

2. Waikawau Bay Campsite, Northern Coromandel

Photo credit: DOC

Waikawau Bay Campsite on the north eastern side of the Coromandel Peninsula is DOC's largest campsite in New Zealand. It is a spacious and family friendly campsite that sits bang on the stunning untouched white sand beach of Waikawau Bay. With the right swell, the beach can be a great surf spot, it's also good for fishing, kayaking and boating with two estuaries at each end of the beach. The campsite backs onto native bush which can be explored from the Matamataharakeke Walkway. With the location and all it has to offer, it is a very popular summer spot so make sure you get in early to book for the peak season. Some zones remain first in first served however it is within close proximity to 4 other great DOC sites. So if you're looking for an overnight adventure getaway within your camping holiday, this location could work well, it makes for a great base to explore the northern parts of the Coromandel.

3. Ohope Beach Top 10 Holiday Park, Bay of Plenty

Photo credit: Ohopebeach.co.nz

Ohope Beach has long been one of the Bay of Plenty's popular camping spots. The local Holiday Park has a great variety of accommodation options, but it's the classic kiwi style camping spots at the water's edge that are the best, especially when the sun is out and the surf is up. The park itself has some great options including a pool, swings and slides, a tennis court, volleyball area and filleting benches for the day's catch. Head west to Mt Maunganui for great cafes and more stunning beaches, or east towards East Cape for more rugged and less populated segments of coastline. Right on your doorstep is Whakatane, the jumping off point for Mayor and White Islands which host some of the worlds best game fishing.

4. Onaero Bay Holiday Park, Onaero Bay, Taranaki

Photo credit: Expedia.com

Onaero Bay Holiday Park is a quiet but beautifully picturesque camping spot located 11.5kms north of Waitara. The cultural hub of New Plymouth is worth the 30 minute trip with a wealth of great eateries and breathtaking scenery when you need a break from the camping. Be sure to check out the Len Lye Centre and the award winning coastal walkway, a 12.7km path that forms an expansive sea-edge promenade with dramatic views of the West Coast. Onaero Bay's unique location sees the campsite situated on both sides of the bush, surrounded by the estuary of the Onaero River. The site is only 5mins drive to the local boat ramp and there's great fishing and kayaking in the area. The Onaero river has white baiting (in season), and there is a local golf course just up the road. This West facing beach gets some magical sunsets. Grab a chair, head down to the beach and watch the sun go down on another great New Zealand camping spot with a sundowner in hand, of course.

5. Waimarama Holiday Park, Waimarama Beach, Hawkes Bay

Photo credit: Hastingstop10.co.nz

This is a little gem of a campsite is a nice, cosy spot which has a limited amount of space, during peak season they do extend into the neighboring paddock so they'll likely fit you in. There is a beautiful golden sand beach that is patrolled during the summer months, a mere 2min walk down the road. The facilities are simple but well loved, kitchen has gas cookers, a microwave and fridge, gas BBQ's and coin showers. This is the spot if you're looking to get away from it all and don't mind roughing a tad, there's a decent fish & chip joint just up the road when you can't be bothered cooking or the fish aren't biting.

6. Motuoapa Bay Holiday Park, Taupo

Photo credit: Top10holidayparks.co.nz

Motuoapa Bay Holiday Park is located 9kms north of Turangi and just 40km south of Taupo, making it the perfect lakeside spot to explore National Park and surrounding areas. It has plenty of great camping spots, and even has three retro-fitted Kombi vans if you feel like taking it indoors. Lake Taupo, right on your doorstep, is famous for its world class Rainbow and Brown Trout fishing. Motupoapa is close to the start of the Tongariro Crossing, which is arguably one of the finest day walks around, and the Tokaanu Hot Springs are just down the road for a soak. This location is close to Taupo so great if the weather doesn't play ball and you need to entertain the kids indoors.

7. Port Waikato Holiday Park, Port Waikato

Photo credit: Port Waikato Holiday Park

Port Waikato is an awesome West Coast surf beach and the place where the mighty Waikato River reaches its final destination - the Tasman Sea. Three hectares of parklike grounds provide plenty of room for the whole family. Onsite hosts a playground, jumping pillow, all the usual cooking facilities and even some trikes for rent. Port Waikato also gets some epic surf on a SW wind, but it's not for the faint hearted! A five minute walk down to the sand dunes and a one minute drive to Sunset Beach, where you'll see some of the best sunsets around all summer. Port Waikato here we come!

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