The island state of New Zealand is located in the southern hemisphere. It is informally known as Kiwi. This country offers outdoor enthusiasts the best camping safari opportunities they can find anywhere on earth. Many people already know this. That is why tourists flock to New Zealand every year in their millions.
If you are planning to travel to New Zealand for a camping safari for the first time, here are 5 important things you should know:
- There are more than 200 vehicle-accessible camping parks in New Zealand
According to the Department of Conservation, they administer 250 vehicle-accessible parks in the country. Therefore, this means that vehicle camping is very popular. To stamp the truth of this statement, there is an organization for motorized campers in New Zealand – New Zealand Motor Caravan Association (1956). Today, it has more than 33,000 camping van owner-members and has a huge fleet of 18000 camping vans.
In most of the public parks, you can enjoy what is referred to as “freedom camping” or dry camping. Campers get access to public parks in locations that do not have campsite facilities such as clean drinking water, electricity connection, or dumping stations.
Freedom camping is popular with many New Zealanders as it is more affordable. Besides, many freedom camping parks are free of charge and they are located in scenic places. However, dry camping enthusiasts are required to dispose of litter and human waste responsibly.
Some of the most popular vehicle-accessible parks in New Zealand include Te Anau Top Ten, Curio Bay, Doc Campsite (Cascade Creek Fiordland), and Wanaka Lakeview Holiday Park to name but just a few.
The best freedom camping parks include Reids Park Farm Freedom Campground, Deer Valley Campsite, Lumsden Campground, Waiomu Freedom Campground, and Fitzroy Beach Holiday Park to name but just a few of them.
- The best time to go for a camping safari in New Zealand is Oct to March
The best time to go camping in New Zealand is October through March. However, the other months are also not too bad, but January and February are recommended for foreigners who would love to taste some freedom camping. These two months are also best for people who would like to tour the various Middle Earth locations where the Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed.
If you do not like crowds, you might want to choose another month to visit New Zealand for camping. January and February are mid and end of summer months, so the campgrounds attract many crowds.
If you would rather try other months, go in April. This is the first month of fall in New Zealand. The temperatures are still good during the day, averaging 18°C, but the nights can be chilly. You will be able to catch the fall foliage in its full glory.
You might want to avoid camping in June, July, and August as those are winter months. They are cold, with temperatures starting at 10°C in June and going to their lowest at 7°C in August. Spring is in September and the average temperature is 17°C. This is also a good time to go for a camping safari as the parks are virtually empty this time of the year.
- Campervan travel and camping are very popular in New Zealand
Everywhere you look online; you will find a campervan for hire in New Zealand. If you are a foreigner and you will be touring the country for just a few months, it makes more sense to rent than buy a campervan.
There are different types of campervans for hire or purchase. These include:
Camper car – This is usually an SUV but with the back seats removed. Instead of the seats, they modify the car so that it can have a camping bed. This kind of campervan is popular with couples or small families with one or two kids. Since a camper car may not get a self-contained sticker, it might be hard to go for freedom camping.
Motorhome – These are big, usually the size of a mini-bus or a full bus. They can accommodate bigger families and they have space for dining space, toilet, kitchenette, and two to six sleeping berths. Because of their self-contained nature, motorhomes give you the liberty to camp anywhere you like.
Campervans – These are bigger than camper cars but smaller than motorhomes. Since they have more space, you can carry more water, food, and camping toilet for freedom camping experiences. They are allowed in freedom camping parks but you need to have a camping toilet so that you can get a self-contained sticker.
- Visiting the Lord of the Rings Trilogy filming sites crowns a good safari
When you travel to New Zealand for a camping safari, do not leave before you see the locations where the Lord of the Rings was filmed. In fact, this should be the highlight of your camping sojourn.
If you loved this trilogy, seeing Middle Earth, in reality, will knock you off your feet. Here is a brief look at some of the popular locations:
Mount Victoria in Wellington – This is located close to the city of Wellington. It is within walking distance of the CBD. See the woods around the mountain that the Hobbits used to hide from the Black Riders. Also, go to Kaitoke Regional Park and see where Frondor recuperated from his knife injury.
Mount Sunday – If Mount Sunday does not knock the breath out of you with awe, nothing ever will. It is so breathtaking. It is also here that you will find Edoras, which was the Rohan People’s main city in the trilogy.
Mount Doom – Located in Tongariro National Park, you will see an appealing view of the peak of Mount Doom as it towers above the bare, rock-strewn surroundings. Pull on your hiking boots and take the Tongariro Alpine Crossing trail to the peak.
Other popular locations that you must visit include the filming areas for Rivendell, Hobbiton, Gondor, and Isengard.
The best areas to camp when you are exploring Middle Earth include Pacific Park Christian Holiday Camp, Narrows Park Christian Camp, and Central City Camping Park.
- Freedom Camping is controlled by the Freedom Camping Act 2011
Before 2011, people could freedom-camp anywhere. However, because of leaving traces (litter and human waste), the Freedom Camping Act of 2011 brought in regulations. If you are a foreigner looking forward to a camping safari in New Zealand, it is your duty to know what this act stipulates.
Always make camp in the designated places only. Camping illegally overnight can earn you a fine of up to NZ$200 and some local authorities can also find you an additional NZ$200 for clamping. Since there is a wide range of freedom camping options, there is no need to pay such fines. Therefore, buy a map showing all the camping parks in the country before you embark on your safari.