11 of the best campgrounds in Taupō (and nearby)

Plan your next trip to the central North Island with our top recommendations for campgrounds in Taupō.

When it comes to exploring Taupō, you will find that there are a tonne of activities to sink your teeth in.

However, many of them do come at a cost – especially adventurous activities like bungy jumping and skydiving.

To save your dollars for the most important part of travel (which is, of course, fun), you can cut your accommodation costs by choosing to stay at a campground instead.

Whether you choose to stay at a holiday park with extensive facilities, or at a freedom camping spot (perfect if you have a self-contained campervan, we’ve got a recommendation for you.

Camping isn’t just an affordable way to sleep at night though.

For many Kiwis, childhood camping trips form memories to last a lifetime. These trips provide an amazing opportunity to explore family time whilst surrounded by the best nature in New Zealand.

So, grab your tent, campervan or caravan and make a move for these fantastic campgrounds in Taupō!

Some businesses are experiencing staffing challenges post-COVID. If you want to guarantee a space at a restaurant or attraction, we suggest pre-booking.

Two couples at the door of their caravan watching the night sky.

The Best Campgrounds in Taupō

To help you find the best campgrounds with great facilities, we’ve put together a list for you!

There are several sites to choose from, and each one offers something unique.

So let’s get into the best campgrounds in Taupō!

Did you know? Many of the following Taupō campgrounds also offer cabin accommodation? This means it’s possible to enjoy them without having to take all of your gear from home.

1. Lake Taupō Holiday Resort

Lake Taupō Holiday Resort is a family favourite when it comes to camping with an array of incredible facilities available.

As well as the standard communal bathroom and kitchen areas, there is also a laundry area and free WiFi. However, if you don’t fancy cooking in the kitchen area, there are three BBQ areas for you to enjoy the great outdoors.

To keep your children entertained during your stay, there are great playgrounds located on-site as well as jumping pillows, go-karts, mini-golf, a pump track, mountain bike hire, basketball, volleyball, petanque and tennis courts.

The whole family is guaranteed to have a great time at the Lake Taupō Holiday Resort – but we’ve not even shared the main highlight yet!

The very best part of this holiday resort is the free thermally heated pools which are open all year round. One of these is the Lusty’s Lagoon thermal pool which has a swim-up bar and cafe, along with a massive movie screen – it is, in fact, the only one of its kind in New Zealand.

It’s a bit like being in Fiji – but without the cost of airfares!

Pretty cool, right?

Address: 41 Centennial Drive, Tauhara, Taupō 3378

White and blue loungers and their umbrellas near the pools of Lake Taupo Holiday Resort.
Enjoy a dip in this campsite’s thermally heated pool – at no extra cost. Photo credit: Lake Taupō Holiday Resort.

2. Taupō DeBretts Spa Resort

The Taupo DeBretts Spa Resort is an award-winning resort and one of the most beautiful campgrounds in Taupō. With spectacular views of Lake Taupō and Tongariro National Park, it’s no wonder this spot is so popular.

The holiday park area of the resort includes a communal kitchen, BBQs, picnic areas and plenty of children’s entertainment, making it a wonderful place to stay.

There is also a communal lounge area available to use with a TV that has Freeview, SKY TV and six movie channels. Two computers are also available to use within the lounge areas.

However, that’s not the best part!

For a surcharge, you can have access to the resort’s waterpark, indoor and outdoor pools, hydro slides and spa. It’s one of the best hot springs in the country and well worth visiting (even if you decide to stay elsewhere).

Sounds like a pretty relaxing camping trip away, right?

We love Taupō DeBretts and know you will too.

Address: 76 Napier-Taupo Road, SH 5, Taupō

Swimming pools and long slides of an outdoor water park of Taupo Debretts.

3. Taupō TOP 10 Holiday Park

The Taupō TOP 10 Holiday Park is the nearest holiday park to both the town centre – in fact, it’s right in it!

It’s in the perfect location to explore this beautiful area with nearby attractions including the Aratiatia Rapids and Mount Ngauruhoe.

When it comes to communal facilities, you’ll be spoilt for choice at this TOP 10 (as with all TOP 10s). There is a modern kitchen, dining room and BBQ areas located on-site, allowing you to make the most out of mealtimes with the family.

The Taupō TOP 10 Holiday Park also has an array of amenities available for both children and adults.

There is an adventure playground located in the park with a trampoline, swings and slides to keep the little ones busy.

And for adults looking to relax (and kids keen for a swim), head to the thermal mineral plunge pool or private indoor spa.

With quality facilities in a great location, we wholeheartedly recommend this Taupō campground.

Address: 16 Rangatira Street Taupō

Did you know? Pets can join you at this TOP 10, by negotiation. Reach out to see if they can accommodate your furry friends.

Two kids riding on a toy car on the grassy yard beside their house.
Photo credit: Taupō Top 10 Holiday Park and Jodi Sweetman.

4. Great Lake Holiday Park Taupō

Great Lake Holiday Park Taupō is only a 5-minute drive from the town centre, is near Lake Taupō and is set in 5 acres of beautifully landscaped ground.

It’s a holiday park that’s great for all weather conditions. It has close access to the lake and other attractions along with activities available on-site too (which will see you through bouts of both poor and beautiful weather).

These include volleyball nets and trampolines, along with a games room and a playground. If you fancy a movie evening with the free WiFi, then you’ll be able to make good use of the on-site shop where you can pick up some snacks.

Like many of the other holiday parks in this area, there are communal bathrooms, a kitchen area and BBQ facilities, all kept clean and tidy.

Great Lake Holiday Park Taupō is also dog friendly in specific areas, which means the whole family can you on holiday!

With beautiful surroundings, this is what family-friendly camping is all about.

Address: 406 Acacia Bay Road, Acacia Bay, Taupō

Caravans parked on the grasslands.

5. Wairakei Thermal Valley Campground

The Wairakei Thermal Valley Campground is a 10-minute drive outside of the town centre. It’s one of the most unique campgrounds in Taupō and though it has simple facilities, it offers guests a relaxing getaway.

There is a small kitchenette, toilets and showers located on the campground, as well as a washing machine for all that dirty laundry.

The owners also run an on-site restaurant that serves meals throughout the day, and there is a thermal valley walk nearby, where you can see some of the area’s unique geological features.

Pets are welcome by arrangement, but keep them on a leash as there are a wide variety of farm animals that roam around the campground. This includes sheep, pigs, and llamas to name a few, and they are all very friendly!

Though this campsite won’t be to everyone’s tastes, those that love it, really do fall in love.

Address: 703 Wairakei Drive, Wairakei, Taupō 3384

Pro Tip: Though they have both powered and unpowered campsites, we really recommend those that are self-contained stay at the Wairakei Thermal Valley Campground – that way you’ll enjoy everything the campsite offers without any of the pitfalls. To decide if this campground is for you, we recommend reading some of these reviews.

6. Hipapatua Recreational Reserve (Reid’s Farm)

Hipapatua Recreational Reserve (or Reid’s Farm) as it’s sometimes known is the first freedom camping spot we’re sharing with you.

It’s free to camp here and is suitable for self-contained and non-self-contained vehicles, as well as tents.

The facilities are incredibly basic, with just one toilet block and no showers or cooking facilities. There is no drinking water on-site either – the only water supply is the Waikato River so make sure you boil your water first.

With all of that said, the site is in a beautiful location alongside the river. Plus, it is close to the town centre, and of course, it’s free.

You can stay at Hipapatua for a maximum of three nights/four days in any 14 night period, and then you’ll have to move on.

Address: Huka Falls Road, Rangatira Park, Taupō 3377

7.  The Huka-Aratiatia Dam Car Park

The Huka-Aratiatia Dam Car Park is another free campsite in Taupō. It’s a 10-minute drive from the town centre and is the site of the beautiful Aratiatia Rapids.

It’s a great base for walking the trails next to the Waikato River and watching the dam release, which is spectacular!

Overnight camping here is only allowed for self-contained vehicles (sorry, no tents are allowed), and you can stay for a maximum of four nights.

It’s important to note that although there are toilet facilities at the car park, they may be locked overnight – hence the need to be self-contained.

Address: Aratiatia Road, Rotokawa, Taupō

The Top Campgrounds Near Taupō

In this article, we’ve included some of the top campgrounds just outside of Taupō.

All of the locations that follow are within a 50-minute drive from the town centre. They’re great if you’d still like to be fairly close to Taupō but want to discover a new area nearby.

8. Whakaipō Bay Recreational Reserve

The Whakaipō Bay Recreational Reserve is an 18-minute drive from Taupō and is another great freedom camping spot.

It’s located right on Lake Taupō where there are many activities that you can enjoy, while marveling at the stunning views. The area is also a lot quieter than the town centre if you’re looking for more tranquillity. In fact, it’s not uncommon for visitors to have the bay to themselves!

When it comes to spending the night, only self-contained vehicles can camp here, as the site doesn’t have the facilities to accommodate for tents or non-contained-vehicles.

The Whakaipō Bay Recreational Reserve is completely free, and vehicles can stay here for a maximum of 4 nights within a month.

Address: 37 Motutaiko Street, Taupō 3330

9. Motutere Bay Top 10 Holiday Park

The Motutere Bay Top 10 Holiday Park is a 25-minute drive from Taupō. It’s the only holiday park situated right on the shores of Lake Taupō which is pretty special.

There is nowhere else in the area where you can pitch your tent or park your van so close to the water’s edge, which makes for a great camping experience.

If you’re keen to stay in their accommodation, they have a range of cabins available but we really recommend checking out their glamping tents (listed as the ‘tent’ option). Located right on the lakefront, and fully kitted-out, they sure are impressive!

A lodge built on top of a wooden platform near the Motutere Bay.
Lakefront glamping. Photo credit: Motutere Bay Top 10 Holiday Park.

Regardless of the accommodation you choose, the Motutere Bay Top 10 Holiday Park has all the facilities you could need including a well-organised kitchen, an on-site store and a TV/recreation area.

In addition, you’ll find plenty to keep the kids busy, including a great playground.

However, the highlight of this site is the stunning views of Lake Taupō. They really are unrivalled, and waking up right next to his beauty is something else!

Address: 2819 State Highway 1, Motutere, Turangi

Did you know? Turangi is just a 20-minute drive from Taupō but provides great access to Mt Ruapehu (for skiing and snowboarding), National Park (where you can enjoy a number of popular walks, including the Tongariro Crossing) and freshwater fishing opportunities.

10. Motuoapa Bay Holiday Park

The Motuoapa Bay Holiday Park is a 35-minute drive from Taupō. This is a hidden gem situated right next to Motuoapa Bay Marina and is only a short walk to the lakefront and the famous Licorice Cafe.

An old-school kiwi favourite, they have plenty of facilities including a children’s playground and BBQ area.

Of course, you can pop your own tent or set up your campervan/caravan but there’s also a range of unique accommodation available on site. Choose from a cabin shaped as a boat, a permanent VW combi van or a boat shed – they’re all available to book.

This is the perfect place to relax after exploring Turangi, Taupō and other nearby spots.

The holiday park is also only a 35-minute drive to Tongariro National Park, so is halfway between two very popular local regions.

Whilst in the area, we also encourage you to pay a visit to the fabulous local hot springs – the Tokaanu Thermal Hot Pools.

Address: 2 Motuoapa Esplanade, Motuoapa Bay, Turangi

A boat house in Turangi built on grassy lands, with stairs eading to each house.
Sleep in a boat shed in Turangi. Photo credit: Motuoapa Bay Holiday Park.

11. Kakaho Campsite

The Kakaho Campsite isn’t located along Lake Taupō but it is only a 35-minute drive from the town centre.

In quite a different region to the non-Taupō sites we mentioned above, this campsite is located near Tihoi.

It’s beside Kakaho Stream and dense forest, making it is particularly secluded and peaceful. The Rimu Track is also nearby, with a stunning viewpoint at the end of the trail.

There are toilet and BBQ facilities located on-at the Kakaho Campsite, and although it is a simpler campground compared to some on this list, it’s still a very pleasant area.

Advance bookings are required but they are particularly affordable which is a real bonus in our eyes.

Address: 1754303/9 State Highway 4, Taumarunui 3920

As you can see there are a variety of campgrounds in Taupō, and some are just a short drive away.

We hope this list has given you a good idea of where you’d like to stay!

Have you visited any of these campgrounds before?

If you have, we’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below.

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