Top 5 low-cost Campsites We Have Visited in the North Island

Kia Ora!

Hi all,

We have been living in New Zealand together for a while and of course we’ve done a lot of camping in New Zealand with Millie, our campervan (isn’t her name adorable?). As we love to travel in a van and sleep in the back of it, we came up with the top 5 low-cost campsites that we have visited in the North Island of NZ.

5. Lake Okareka Campsite



Located just 20 minutes east from Rotorua, Lake Okareka campsite is a nice small site right on the beach. It is a great spot for swimming and sailing and tramping along the difficult mount Whakapoungakau track. It is a great base for exploring the green and blue lakes which are beautiful.  However, at $13 per person, it is a bit expensive as there is no water and limited spaces available.

4. Tapu Creek Campervan Park


Nice spot to camp cheaply on the way to the Coromandel. Located just outside of Tapu 10 kilometres north of Thames this campsite offers hot showers and BBQ facilities. Also, the river is great for swimming. The staff are friendly and you can go hiking to see wild kiwi birds in summer. $14 per adult.

3. Matheson bay Freedom camping



Located just 10-minute drive from Goat Island, Matheson bay is a FREE campsite right next to the beach. This type of campsite is what I expected when I came to NZ. Just parking the van next to the beach, going for a swim before cooking some food whilst having a beer. Perfect. And there is a flush toilet too! Luxury.

Our camping video #VANLIFE:

2.  Shakespeare Regional Park




We haven’t actually spent a night a Shakespeare regional park, however, we feel that it deserves the number two (lol!) spot.

Located just 50 kilometres from Auckland CBD; the park offers 4 lovely beaches all with a view of the impressive Auckland city skyline in the distance.  With three BBQs, cold showers and flushing toilets are available. It is $15 for adults and you must book in advance, weekends book out quickly which is the main reason we didn’t stay.

More information at; Teharuhi Bay Campground

1. McLaren falls park



Situated a convenient ten-minute drive from Tauranga, McLaren Falls park is the perfect camping spot to explore the picturesque Mount Maunganui.  The huuuuuuge 190 hectares of rolling hills allows visitors opportunities to take part in a number of outdoor activities such as fishing, kayaking, canoeing, bush walks, disc golf and horse riding.

The park was formed when the Wairoa River was dammed to create a hydroelectricity power station in 1925. The dam regularly releases water to create excellent white water rapids for recreational kayakers and rafters.

Due to our laziness and the inclement weather we opted for a less strenuous walk around the lakes during which Mikki taught me the Thai words for the flora and fauna that we encountered. (Which obviously I have forgotten)

One of the highlights of the park is the Waterfall Track where you can see glow worms after dusk.  Enjoy a short, easy stroll to the picturesque waterfall and spot the glow worms on either side of the track. Night kayaking is also possible to witness the glowing blobs covering cave walls.

For just $10 per person and with hot showers, BBQ facilities, toilets and a café McLaren Falls park has to be the best campsite we have visited in all of New Zealand.  Congratulations. Take a bow McLaren Falls Park!

Information from the government website;

Camping Maximum stay for camping is three nights. Any open grassed area is available for camping except Cherry Bay.  Hot Shower facilities are free and available at Pin Oak Flat.  0-5 years – Free 5-16 years – $5 per night per person 16+ years – $10 per night per person Bookings are not required for camping, locations are available on a first come first serve basis.  – See more Click Here

All bookings for weddings, events and the hostel are done through the booking office on 07 577 7000 or by email



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