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7 Top Recreational Camping Spots in the South Island

When it comes to camping, Aotearoa is truly blessed with an amazing variety of locations.

Te Waiponamu (South Island) boasts some of the purest, vast and most striking natural landscapes in the world. If you are in search of golden sunsets, star filled nights, great surf breaks, lakes, rivers, beaches and mountains, the South Island has it all.

Camping is a cost effective and fun way to take the whole family on tour this summer, best of all you'll create lifelong memories.

Here are our 7 top spots to hit in the South. Get amongst it!

1. Glendhu Bay Motorcamp, Glendhu Bay, Wanaka

Photo credit: Glendhubaymotorcamp.co.nz

Glendhu Bay is a beautiful little spot only 10 mins drive from Wanaka, a sheltered bay sitting right on the shores of Lake Wanaka. This spot is all about boating on the lake and enjoying some of the great walks of the area, such as Roy's Peak and Diamond Lake. It's also a great base location for exploring Aspiring National Park. If you feel like a change of pace, Queenstown the adventure capital of the world is just a short drive away. With campsites are right on the lake-front, the days are longer than most in New Zealand's mid summer and it's a perfect spot for some night time star gazing. Glendhu Bay, where great camping memories are made!

2. Peketa Beach Holiday Park, Kaikoura

Photo credit: Rankers NZ

Paketa Beach Holiday Park is situated just 10 mins south of Kaikoura and the campsites are set right on the beachfront, with a stunning backdrop of snow capped mountains that only the Kaikoura coastline could provide. There is great fishing, and the coastline is rich with Crayfish and Paua...if you know where to look. Delve into the area's incredible Maori history with many tours available, not to mention caving, seal colonies, whale watching, golf and local art galleries. If you're camping you can even take your dog; keeping it on a lead within the park. Kaikoura is a beautiful part of New Zealand with some stunning coastline scenery. Why not pack the tent up and head there this Christmas!

3. Lake Middleton Campsite, Ohau

Photo credit: Stuff.co.nz

Lake Middelton campsite is a picturesque spot with great fishing in the Lake Ohau area, the site itself is set amongst towering Douglas Fir trees which give it a distinctly Canadian feel. The low levels of light pollution make this one of the best stargazing spots in the world!When the wind is blowing up at Lake Ohau, this is the spot to come to, sheltered by the large trees your tents will be out of the wind. Watch out for the sandflies at dusk, however they are ruthless locals that should be respected at all times.

4. Pohara Beach Top 10 Holiday Park, Golden Bay, Nelson

Photo credit: Poharabeach.com

Pohara Beach, one of the main holiday centres of the Golden Bay area, is a beautiful, shallow, safe golden sand beach that is popular all year round. The holiday park there offers beachfront camping and is the perfect spot from which to explore the area from kayak or boat. It's a popular destination for windsurfers also, with almost ideal conditions during the summer months. The campsite is super relaxed here, has free Wi-Fi and is centrally located for the Nelson region with Abel Tasman National Park right on your doorstep it's an awesome destination for South Island campers that's hard to beat.

5. Moeraki Boulders Kiwi Holiday Park, Hampden Beach, Otago

Photo credit: Moerakiboulders.com

The Moeraki Boulders are a freak of nature that's truly unique, bunches of sphere shaped rock formations that pop up out of the sand across a stunning coastal beach. Just up the road is the Moeraki Boulders Holiday Park, a perfect place to stay when exploring the extensive bird and marine wildlife of the south east coast of New Zealand. The park is on the slightly smaller side and is a typical kiwi style camp ground, a perfect match for the area. The fishing in the bay is top notch and, if you're lucky you may see some Hector Dolphins which regularly frequent the bay. There is a cool lagoon for kayaking (perfect for the kids) and the star-gazing at night is simply out of this world. Make Moeraki your next summer camping destination!

6. Purakaunui Bay Campsite, The Catlins, Southland

Photo credit: Clutha.com

If you're wanting to get back to basics and off the beaten track for your summer camping trip, then the DOC Purakaunui Bay campsite could be just for you. It's a smaller site with only 40 non-powered tent sites on a scenic grassy area right beside the beach. The facilities are basic, long drop toilets and cold water on tap. Disclaimer: If you are looking for a holiday park type vibe with full facilities this may not be the place for you. If you can handle basic, then you'll be amply rewarded with an awesome site that has you sleeping right by the beach with amazing views of sheer cliffs and the sound of waves crashing onto the shore at night. Purakaunui Falls are just up the road for a fresh water change of scene and there is good surf beach south of the camp, and Jacks Blowhole is just 10km north. See you in the Catlins!

7. Punakaiki Beach Camp, Punakaiki, West Coast

Photo credit: Rankers NZ

The Punakaiki rock formations on the West Coast of the South Island are a true natural wonder to behold. The foundations of the Pancake Rocks were formed 30 million years ago when minute fragments of dead marine creatures and plants landed on the seabed about 2km below the surface. Immense water pressure caused them to solidify into layers of harder limestone and softer, thin, mud. Viola! Pancake stacks made of rock - BYO maple syrup. You can honestly stare at these, along with the blowholes, for hours on end and still be in complete awe. There are walks into the National Park that border onto the campground, which are located just 700m north of the coastal formations right beside the beach. Check out Punakaiki these holidays, you will not be disappointed!

See You Out There.

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