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12 places to go camping in the Waikato and Central Plateau: location map and tips on what to do nearby

Perhaps you want to pitch a tent and a powered site is not necessary. Or a little comfort is in order with a standard cabin together with an ensuite facility. Holiday parks are the great compromise with the kids in a tent and the parents in the ensuite. Camping does not need to be uncomfortable and it is always budget friendly.

1
Te Aroha Holiday Park and Hot Pools

Te Aroha Holiday Park and Hot Pools is a quiet hidden corner of the camping scene. There is a private geothermal, warm pool every night to soak away holiday muscle aches. Lots of space for kids to kick, jump and play in the park like surrounds. Cabins, chalets, powered and non-powered sites galore to choose from.

What to do nearby:

  1. Soak in Te Aroha Spa and luxuriate in the Edwardian splendour
  2. Stroll around the Howarth Memorial Wetland Loop Walk, it’s a great place for kids to Identity New Zealand birds. The walk follows the Waihou River.
  3. Active trampers can enjoy panoramic views on the Mt Aroha Mountain Track
@tearohaholidaypark
Hot Pools @Hotels.com
2
Raglan Kopua Holiday Park

Raglan Kopua Holiday Park is location, location, location with its position on the estuary and close to the urban vibe of the Raglan cafe scene. Flat easy access within the extensive camping grounds and plenty of room for everyone without feeling overcrowded. To book check out Raglan Holiday Park Papahua.

What to do nearby Raglan Kopua Holiday Park:

  1. Children have safe swimming holes in the estuary and then there is the challenge of learning to surf.
  2. Active holiday makers could try out Raglan Rock and canyon down waterfalls and rock climb valleys.
  3. Perhaps a leisurely saunter to the Raglan Art Centre
@raglanholidaypark
@raglanholidaypark
3
Lake Karapiro Mighty River (Waikato) Domain camping

Lake Karapiro Mighty River (Waikato) Domain camping is a premium site with numerous outdoor activities for families to while away time.  It is large and perhaps off putting for some people who look for space and a sense of adventure.  For families who have a boat and water sports are important check out Lake Karapiro camping has to offer. For booking details check out Lake Karapiro Mighty River (Waikato) Domain camping.

What to do nearby Lake Karapiro:

  1. Hamilton attractions are nearby with its quirky museums, great shops and cafes
  2. Waitomo Caves are an iconic part of the holiday landscape for overseas visitors, now it’s time for kiwis to see why
  3. Putaruru Blue Springs with its stupendous natural spring water makes for great day trip
@Mighty River Domain
@Mighty River Domain
@Mighty River Domain
4.
Hamilton City Holiday Park

Hamilton City Holiday Park park grounds ensure you do not feel as though you are in a city. Mature trees, extensive planting and the proximity of the Waikato River walks leading the Hamilton Gardens create a feeling of seclusion. For details and booking options check out Hamilton City Holiday Park Accommodation.

What to do nearby Hamilton City Holiday Park:

  1. Spend time in ​Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park,  a whooping 65.5 hectares with a focus on biodiversity
  2. Check the local city cafes and city public sculptures dotted around the town
  3. ArtsPost Galleries & Shop for some shopping therapy, managed under  the banner of the Waikato Museum is a must see destination. ArtsPost is a dedicated voice and venue for local artists and supporting arts in the Waikato.
Hamilton City Holiday Park @Stuff
Hamilton City Holiday Park @Methven i-Site
5.
Cambridge TOP 10 Holiday Park Campsite

Cambridge TOP 10 Holiday Park – Campsite

Cambridge Top 10 holiday park is a great location for access to lake Karapiro and Hobbiton Movie set. There is a playground for kids and it is a short walk to the main street for cafes and supermarkets. The accommodation ranges from motels, chalets, cabins, powered and non-powered sites.

To book check out Cambridge TOP 10 Holiday Park: New Zealand Holiday Park.

What to do nearby to Cambridge Top ten holiday park:

  1. Saturday Farmers market is a great place for craft, delicious local produce and treats.
  2. Wairere Falls, drops 154 m in a spectacular display. The falls are accessed via a 5 km forest walk.
  3. Hidden in the middle of Cambridge, Lake Te Koutu provides a scenic and relaxing, easy walking trail in Waikato. Several lookout points, water features, and a children’s playground make this walk perfect for young families.
Cambridge TOP 10 Holiday Park @booking
Cambridge TOP 10 Holiday Park @Gites.fr
6.
Otorohanga Kiwi Holiday Park

Otorohanga Kiwi Holiday Park is located next to Lake Huiputea reserve with native trees and shrubs. There is a heated swimming pool, a mini golf course and a playground. To book check out Otorohanga Kiwi Holiday Park for details.

What to do nearby Otorohanga:

  1. The reserve is a great place for an evening walk
  2. The town’s main street is a few minutes walk to get that needed coffee break
  3. Otorohanga is home to the Kiwi Native Bird Park
  4. Only 16km to the world famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves.
Otorohanga Kiwi Holiday Park @booking
Otorohanga Kiwi Holiday Park @TripAdvisor
7.
Ruapuke Motor Camp Raglan

Ruapuke Motor Camp is tucked into a picturesque valley behind the northern part of Ruapuke Surf beach. Largely powered and non-powered sites there are several cabins for rent which are usually snapped up quickly in the summer season. One cabin has ensuite facilities, the rest are shared camp toilet and shower facilities. The camp describes itself as camping as it used to be. To book check out Ruapuke Motor Camp. Phone 07 8256 800 for details. NOTE cash only payment system and there is no online booking facility.

What to do nearby Ruapuke Motor Camp:

  1. Avid surfers have an ideal spot to polish their skills
  2. Raglan cafe and art scene is not far away from the camp at 30 km
  3. Opportunity to chill out in a quiet rural setting.
@ruapukemotorcamp
@ruapukemotorcamp

Kawhia has two camping grounds to choose from giving visitors some indication of why you should go camping in Kawhia. There is less than 10 minutes between the two camping grounds. Both camping grounds are attractive with great facilities for a summer holiday. To check out the location here is a map to assist with where each camping ground is positioned.

Forest View Motor Camp to Kawhia Camping Grounds

8.
Kawhia Forest View Motor Camp

Forest View Motor Camp has a boat ramp with commanding views over the sea. A classic camping ground focused on summer activities. Bookings are confirmed via email or telephoning directly.

@kawhiacamping
@kawhiacamping
@kawhiacamping
9.
Kawhia Camping Ground

Kawhia Camping Ground is a quiet holiday park that is in a sheltered position. A short walk along the Pohutukawa lined coast to town and around the corner from the harbour and boat ramp. The camp has a fish smoker for hire. To book check out for details Kawhia Accommodation – Kawhia Camping Ground, New Zealand.

What to do nearby in Kawhia:

  1. Ocean beach with its natural hot thermal pools, Te Puia Hot Springs seep through the black sands making it fun to dig to create your own temporary natural spa
  2. Fishing is a breeze from the public boat ramp in Kawhia
  3. Boating is a popular recreational activity in the summer
  4. Exploration of Aotea Beach orange sandstone reefs with ancient tree trunks and massive black sand dunes.
Kawhia Camping Ground @Rankers NZ
@kawhiacampingground

DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION CAMPING GROUNDS

10.
Whakapapa Holiday Park Camp

Central Plateau mountains summer holiday.

Summer in the mountains anyone, then check out Whakapapa Holiday Park Camp in a mountain beech forest, beside a stream. …Serviced campsite | Campervan, Car, Caravan access. The camp grounds are managed by the Department of Conservation. Powered sites, tent sites, cabins, a self-contained unit, backpacker beds and rooms, and 32-bed self-contained lodge. Transport services to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in summer, and to Whakapapa Ski Area in winter, a drying room.

It is a serviced DOC site. To book check out Whakapapa Holiday Park.

What to do nearby Whakapapa:

  1. Summer walks are magical with the alpine climate a crisp contrast to the heat of an Auckland summer
  2. Exploration of Lake Rotopounamu, swimming and picnics in a sheltered bush setting
  3. A visit to Tokaanu hot thermal pool complex
Whakapapa Holiday Park Camp @Seth Smigelski
Whakapapa Holiday Park Camp @Whakapapa

DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION CAMPING SITES

11.
Arohena Campsite

Arohena Campsite is a Department of Conservation managed camping ground. It is a standard campsite with bookings not required, it operates as a first come, first served basis. To check facilities (50 non-powered sites) and check out for more information Arohena Campsite. This campsite on the western shores of Waikato River. On the Waikato River there is no formal boat ramp but a pumice beach to land and launch. The last 1km of road to get here is a winding, narrow gravel road. Large motor homes may struggle to negotiate the tight corners. Sometimes described as Arohea Landing Campsite due to the name of the gravel road accessing the site.

What to do nearby Arohea campsite:

  1. Fishing on the Waikato River and Lake Arapuni, check out for fishing tips Fish & Game tips good times ahead for Lake Arapuni anglers
  2. Blacksmithing Course – Kowhai Forge is a perfect reason to visit Te Awamutu. Approximately 1 hour driving time
  3. Otorohanga is less than 30 minutes drive to the Kiwi Native Reserve
Arohena Campsite @DoC
Arohena Campsite @DoC
12.
Pureora Forest camping grounds Ngaherenga campsite

Ngaherenga conservation campsite: Pureora Forest Park, Waikato region & Kakaho Campsite Beside Kakaho Stream and dense podocarp forest.

A standard campsite, first in, first served camping ground. In the Pureora Forest Park: Places to go in the Waikato region.

What to do nearby Pureora Forest Park:

  1. Short walks through native or regenerated forest with historic timber milling relics and historic settlements to explore. Short walks close to Pureora Village, Pureora Village short walks
  2. DOC brochure informs visitors that New Zealand has two species of bats – the long tail and short tail bat. Both bats may be viewed at dusk in some locations around the park. The Ngaherenga campground offers views of short tail bats as they leave a roosting tree. Long tail bats may be seen and heard along Select Loop Road. A bat detector is handy but not necessary to see the bats. A pair of binoculars may enhance your experience, but due to their size and speed, bats are difficult to see.
  3. Historic sightseeing on the The Timber Trail cycleway between Pureora and Ongarue follows historic bush tramways, old bulldozer and haul roads.
  4. Star grazing, the dark sky The Piropiro campground is privately located at the end of Kokomiko Rd and is sheltered from neighbouring properties and lights for a full immersion experience. The Pureora Cabins and the Ngaherenga campground in Pureora Village also offer good star gazing opportunities due to the limited amount of lighting within the village.

For inspiration about your forest camping experience check out the Stuff article in our Travel Pack Information. “Pureora Forest Park camping heaven

Ngaherenga campsite @DoC
Kakaho Campsite @Spaceships Travel

TRAVEL PACK INFORMATION

  • For inspiration check out Pureora Forest Park camping heaven Stuff online article Dec 29, 2015. As always, think about making a contribution to Stuff to support our online community.  Pureora Forest Park is 78,000 hectares of native forest between the western bays of Lake Taupo, Te Kuiti and Taumarunui. It has great tracts of native trees, and birdlife is abundant – so take the binoculars. This DOC-managed park is one of the largest intact tracts of native forest in the North Island, and has great camping, picnicking, swimming and forest walks.  The latter offers anything from a 10-minute stroll to a three-day trek, with overnight stop options being cabins, huts or camping.
  • Remember to check up to date information around opening hours and whether STAY providers are continuing to operate.
  • DOC managed areas, Dogs are not allowed even on a leash unless otherwise stated.
  • DOC basic camping sites have been excluded from this list.

The journey is worth it.

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