Bay of Islands Northland Whangārei

14 of the Best Northland Campgrounds

April 2, 2022

Discover the best Northland campgrounds. From free camp spots to popular holiday parks, there’s something for all campers here.

The Northland Region of New Zealand stretches from Auckland’s border to the top of the country, and it’s a truly gorgeous destination.

Whether you’re looking to explore the beautiful Bay of Islands want to venture deep into the Waipoua Forest (which is home to the famed Tāne Mahuta), you’re bound to need somewhere reliable to rest your head each night.

However, many of the accommodation options in Northland can be rather pricey. So, you may wish to cut your costs by camping instead!

If you’re looking for the best camping grounds in Northland that have been tried and tested, we’ve got you covered.

Although they’re spread out across the expansive Northland area, you should be able to find somewhere on this list that piques your interest (and fits in with your itinerary).

Now that you’ve decided to head north, let’s dive right into our list of the best Northland campgrounds!

COVID-19 has come with its fair share of challenges for New Zealand businesses. Though we do our best to share accurate information, this can change quickly as some businesses make the decision to operate under reduced hours or hibernate. We suggest you double-check they are open before finalising your plans.

The Top Northland Campgrounds

In no particular order, these are our favourite Northland campgrounds.

1. Whatuwhiwhi TOP 10 Holiday Park

Located on the stunning Karikari Peninsula, the Whatuwhiwhi TOP 10 Holiday Park is another popular family-friendly spot.

Take your pick from motel rooms, units, cabins and both powered and unpowered sites. All of which have access to the impressive facilities available at this holiday park.

There you’ll find a child’s playground, TV room, laundry facilities, a BBQ area, well-equipped communal kitchens, tidy bathrooms, a spa and more.

We highly recommend hiring a kayak from the office to enjoy the sheltered bay on your doorstep.

You’ll also be well positioned to swim at Perihepe Beach, or make a beeline for four other incredible beaches in the immediate area.

As an added bonus, parts of the campground are pet friendly (outside of peak season – December and January) so you’re welcome to inquire with the office when making your reservation. Understandably, dogs must be on a leash at all times to ensure the comfort of all guests.

This is the place of summer memories that will last a lifetime!

17 Whatuwhiwhi Road, Kaitaia 0483

Book: Accommodation at the Whatuwhiwhi TOP 10 Holiday Park.

Fun times at the Whatuwhiwhi TOP 10 Holiday Park.

2. Hukatere Lodge and Camping Ground

Another one of our favourite Northland campgrounds is the Hukatere Lodge and Camping Ground.

Located on the charming Aupouri Peninsula, this cosy site is ideal for traditional campers, anyone with a campervan, and those who enjoy a few creature comforts.

The cabins and camping areas are located a mere 300m from the Ninety Mile Beach, making this an excellent spot for treks along the Te Araroa Trail.

Campers will also have access to fresh drinking water, communal kitchen areas, electricity (solar-powered!), hot showers, and flush toilets.

However, don’t be afraid to boost your budget and stay in the secluded eco-lodge.

Located on the west coast of the Aupouri Peninsula, this five-bedroom property boasts a private veranda, a large bathroom, a BBQ area, a well-equipped kitchen, and a lounge area.

The lodge is certainly more expensive than the tented sites, but we’d say it’s an ideal choice for larger groups looking for privacy.

809 Hukatere Road, Houhora 0460

Hukatere Lodge & Camping Ground
Photo credit: Auckland iSite.

3. Ruakaka Beach Holiday Park

If you’re on the hunt for affordable camping grounds in Northland that are clean and family-friendly, you can’t beat Ruakaka Beach Holiday Park!

Offering 264 powered sites, 80 non-powered sites, and 9 lovely backpacker cabins, this accommodation option is one of the largest in New Zealand.

As this site is located right on the Ruakākā estuary, you’ll get wonderful waterfront views and easy access to the estuary for swimming and kayaking. If you’d prefer to surf, there’s an excellent summer surf beach nearby.

If you need supplies, the Oasis Dairy backs directly onto the holiday park, while Ruakaka Town Centre is just 4km away and has a well-stocked supermarket.

While you’re here, be sure to check out the onsite tennis court, playground, and volleyball courts. We’d also recommend stopping by the Marsden Cove Marina if you’d like to hit the water by boat.

Ruakākā is a stunning spot in Northland and one we highly recommend.

21 Ruakaka Beach Road, Ruakākā 0116

Ruakaka Beach Holiday Park
Phone credit: Tripadvisor.

4. Nikau Bay Camp

Are you on the hunt for a camping ground in Northland that’s right on a stunning river? If so, consider the search over with Nikau Bay Camp!

Unlike other campgrounds, this unique spot melds old-fashioned tōtara-constructed bunkrooms with traditional waterfront camping.

If you’d like to be right on the Ngunguru River, we suggest booking one of the waterfront campsites.

Shrouded by trees (which give you additional privacy), each site is large enough to house small or medium-sized campervans and tents.

For something slightly larger and more refined, try one of their signature cabins or bunkrooms.

Offering shared kitchens, showers, and toilets, they’re an affordable way to dial up your camping experience.

If you’re worried about overcrowding in the bunkrooms – don’t be. Nikau Bay keeps numbers low to always maintain a sense of personal space and comfort.

If this isn’t the perfect spot to unwind, we don’t know what is!

999 Ngunguru Ford Road, Kiripaka, Whangārei 0173

Related: Things to do in Whangārei.

Nikau Bay Camp
Photo credit: Nikau Bay Camp.

5. Urupukapuka Bay Campsite

If you’re heading to the Bay of Islands, we recommend checking out the Urupukapuka Bay Campsite. Nestled right on the edge of Urupukapuka Bay, you’ll get sensational views of the coastal surroundings and sprawling beaches.

Thanks to its large size (there are 60 wonderful sites on offer!) and impressive location, this area been considered one of the top Northland campgrounds for years.

Not only will you have unrivalled access to Otehei Bay and other locations in the Bay of Islands archipelago, but the site offers guests a composting toilet and a gazebo cooking area for group gatherings in the summertime.

The fees are extremely reasonable and will set you back around $18/night for adults, and $9 a night for kids between 5 and 17. If you’re travelling with infants, you can save a few bucks as they stay free.

This campsite is located on an island and is off the well-beaten track, so don’t expect all of the mod-cons you’ll find at many of these other campgrounds.

With a location that’s second to none though, we think it’s worth braving the cold-water showers.

Urupukapuka Island, Northland, 0184, New Zealand

Related: The best things to do in Paihia.

Photo credit: Rankers.

6. Twilight Micro-Camp

Twilight Micro-Camp is located within the Te Paki Recreation Reserve, making it one of the top camping grounds in Northland for wilderness explorers.

Oh, and did we mention that’s it’s a mere 12km from the stunning Cape Reinga Lighthouse?

Perfect.

Although you won’t find frills and fancies at this campsite, it supplies the basics need for a comfortable stay.

In addition to picnic tables, water taps, and a long drop toilet, you’ll be minutes away from the beautiful Twilight Beach.

Being a walk-in campsite, this remote spot is generally quiet which we just love. Plus, the 25 non-powered sites are free and don’t require advance bookings.

Almost entirely unspoiled and boasting huge dunes and wetlands, you can spend hours exploring the nearby area after setting up camp. Just keep an eye out for mozzies – this place is rife with those pesky things, so we highly recommend being liberal with the bug repellent.

If you’re looking for things to do nearby that aren’t beach-related, we recommend heading along the Te Paki Coastal Track.

Sure, it may not be the easiest trek in the world and can take a few days to cover, but it passes through the rugged coastline of Cape Reinga which is just breathtaking!

25 Matthews Ave Kaitaia 0441

Twilight Micro Camp Northand Camping Grounds
Photo credit: Department of Conservation.

7. Camp Waipu Cove

Camp Waipu Cove is one of the most versatile camping grounds in Northland. It offers visitors the choice of non-powered sites, cabins, self-contained digs, and exciting bunkhouses, so there is something for everyone.

Located in the stunning area of Waipu, this spot is just 90 minutes from Auckland City and is the perfect escape for city slickers.

If you’d like to indulge in home comforts while you’re here, we highly recommend sticking with the two-bedroom self-contained accommodations or the kitchen cabins. Sleeping up to six and boasting glorious king-size beds, twin beds, and kitchen facilities, they’ll truly feel like a home-away-from-home.

Those on the hunt for something more rustic will appreciate any of the 120 powered or 30 non-powered sites. Available next to the playground or in a secluded spot that’s further away from the action, you can choose the option that’s right for your group.

All campers will have access to kitchen and dining facilities, gas hobs, two electric BBQs, laundry services, showers and toilets, and baby facilities. Split into three separate “amenity blocks”, you should have no trouble finding what you need!

869 Cove Road, RD2 Waipu

Book: Accommodation at Camp Waipu Cove.

Camp Waipu Cove Northland Campgrounds
Photo credit: Tripadvisor.

8. Mangawhai Heads Holiday Park

The Mangawhai Heads Holiday Park is an excellent base for visiting Northland, and it’s incredibly easy to reach for Aucklanders!

Close to Mangawhai Heads Beach and plenty of local hiking trails, this camping ground in Northland is ideal for families with children.

Thanks to the site’s lagoon-style setting, you’ll have near-instant access to the ocean – so, no more tired legs or complaining after a full day at the beach.

Onsite facilities include unlimited WiFi, coin-operated showers, coin-operated laundry, kitchens, clotheslines, picnic tables, and a great BBQ area. If you’re planning to explore the area by boat, there’s also a dedicated boat ramp for guests to use.

If you head slightly further afield, you’ll find the incredible Mangawhai Cliffs Walkway and Mangawhai Village. Not only will you find the popular Village Market here, but you can try some of the best chocolate in Northland at Bennetts.

Mangawhai is widely regarded as one of the best spots in Northland to holiday and after a visit here, you’ll see why.

2 Mangawhai Heads Road, Mangawhai Heads, Mangawhai 0505

Book: A holiday home at the Mangawhai Heads Holiday Park.

Mangawhai Heads Holiday Park Camping Grounds Northland
Photo credit: Mangawhai Heads Holiday Park.

9. Kai Iwi Lakes Campground

The Kai Iwi Lakes are like something out of a fairy-tale.

Not only are they a short drive from Dargaville (the kūmara capital of New Zealand), but this stunning site is located right on the freshwater dune lakes in the Taharoa Domain.

Also next to the glistening Kai Iwi Lakes, you’ll find 538 hectares of recreational reserve land here, which is ideal for exploring with the kiddos.

At this Kaipara District-run campground, you’ll be able to choose from two separate sites: Pine Beach and Promenade Beach.

Pine Beach is the larger of the two options and offers coin-operated showers, flushing toilets, and a limited number of powered sites.

If you choose Promenade Point on the western beachfront, you’ll find a set of flush toilets, but you won’t have access to showers. However, it’s worth noting that Promenade Point is far more tranquil than the former campsite. So, bear this in mind.

If you’re struggling to choose between the sites, don’t worry. Though they’re both simple, you really can’t go wrong with either of them in this incredible location.

One of the most scenic spots in Aotearoa, the Kai Iwi Lakes need to be seen to be believed.

Domain Road, R D 3 Omarari 0373

Kai Iwi Lakes Campground
Photo credit: Kai Iwi Lakes.

10. Kai Iwi Lakes Resort

Keen on spending time at the Kai Iwi Lakes with a few more creature comforts?

If so, the Kai Iwi Lakes Resort is a great option for you.

This beautiful campsite offers a wide range of accommodation options, including glamping (in beautiful bell tents), holiday homes and tent sites.

On-site, you’ll find a playground, BBQ area, beautiful gardens and free WiFi.

Plus, is it’s just a few kilometres from the lakes, it’s close enough to be convenient but quiet enough to really unwind.

49 Kai Iwi Lakes Road, 0373 Kaihu

Book: All accommodation types at the Kai Iwi Lakes Resort.

Photo credit: Kai Iwi Lakes Resort.

11. Motutara Farm

Nestled in the small locality of Whananaki, the 75-hectare Motutara Farm certainly deserves a place on our list of the top campsites in Northland.

Boasting over 200 tent sites, 3 excellent beaches, and a local shop and café nearby, this is a top Kiwi camping spot.

In addition to the local amenities, you’ll also have access to shower cubicles (more on these soon) and long drop toilet facilities.

Before booking though, it’s worth noting that this site requires you to be relatively self-sufficient.

For example, you’ll need to bring a shower solar bag (to hang in the shower cubicles) and your own cooking equipment.

However, we’d say that the stunning vistas and easy access to Barrons Beach, Cliff, and Valley make up for the slightly lacking amenities.

After all, isn’t camping all about going back to basics?

Current charges are $18/night for adults and $9 a child, which should work out to $54/night for the average nuclear family. If you’re travelling with a tiny tyke under 5, they’ll stay free.

The lack of facilities won’t suit everyone but we think this is a camping spot that’s worth checking out all the same.

42 Rockell Road, Whananaki 0181

Motuara Farm Northland Camping Grounds
Photo credit: Tripadvisor.

12. Kauri Coast TOP 10 Holiday Park

Whilst some of the campgrounds on this list allow you get back to nature, the Kauri Coast TOP 10 Holiday Park ensures you’ll have all of the creature comforts of home (if you want them).

This beautiful campground is set on two hectares of parkland and is surrounded by native bush and rivers.

Being a TOP 10 it goes without saying that the facilities here are top-notch. They also provide a wide range of accommodation options, ranging from unpowered tent sites to comfortable motel rooms, and have a well-stocked shop selling essentials (and freshly made coffee and muffins too).

Where this holiday park really shines is through its activities though!

Swim in the swimming hole, tube in the river, hop on the flying fox (zip line), try your hand at trout fishing, check out a bush walk or challenge someone to a game of petanque – the choice if yours.

Incredibly, it’s even possible to take your horse of holiday if you’d like to ride locally!

Though there’s plenty to do on-site, if you do want to leave you’ll be just 5km from the Trounson Kauri Park, 18km from the incredible Kai Iwi Lakes and 20km from the Waipoua Forest (and Tane Mahuta).

Our family loved the TOP 10 at Kauri Coast by Kai Iwi Lakes. It’s surrounded by a stream you can jump into from a rope swing or feed eels on the other side of the park. At night there’s glow worms and kiwi spotting.

Amelia – NZTT member

7 Opouteke Road, Dargaville 0379

Did you know? You can rent ‘kiwi spotting kits’ from the front desk. They say this is one of the best places to spot a North Island Brown Kiwi in the wild – 50% of people manage to find them! Whilst exploring the forest in the dark you’ll also want to keep your eyes peeled for web spiders, weta and kauri snails.

Photo credit: Kauri Coast Top 10 Holiday Park.

13. Maitai Bay Campsite – Currently Closed

If you’re looking for a campsite that is affordable, easily accessible and in one of the most drop-dead gorgeous spots, then the Maitai Bay Campsite is for you.

This scenic campsite is right beside Maitai Bay (which is widely recognised as one of the most stunning and sheltered bays in the whole country).

With boat ramps close to hand, it’s perfect for those wanting to fish, waterski and kayak. Swimming is another favourite activity in the area.

Facilities here are fairly simple, with cold-water showers and flush toilets close to hand.

Though home to 100 unpowered sites (which are suitable for tents, camervans and caravans), this pohutukawa-lined campground fills up fast during the summer season.

As one of the most beautiful parts of Northland, it’s unsurprising, really.

Please note, the Maitai Bay Campsite was temporarily closed to protect the local community from COVID-19. Please check that it has reopened before planning your visit.

Karikari Peninsula 0483

Did you know? Though this campsite is incredibly popular around Christmas time, bookings cannot be made in advance. They operate on a first-in, first-served basis.

Photo credit: DOC.

14. Ahipara Holiday Park

If you’re looking for an excellent base for a surfing vacation in Ahipara, you can’t do better than Ahipara Holiday Park.

Considered one of the top Northland campgrounds for those who can’t let go of creature comforts, you’ll find excellent amenities in every room (if you don’t pitch a tent, of course).

Not only will you have access to unlimited free WiFi during your stay, but the communal BBQ area is perfect for those balmy summer nights.

What’s more, you’re just five minutes from Ninety Mile Beach which offers towering waves, long stretches of sand, and the most gorgeous sunsets (which the Far North is famous for!)

You can either stay in one of their self-contained campsites or opt for one of the more luxurious cabins.

The tenting sites are all on level grass pitches that offer plenty of shade, and you’ll be able to charge all phones, tablets, and cameras at the reception desk – phew!

As you’ll be camping within the glorious gardens, you’ll be surrounded by wisteria, lavender, freesias, and shading loquat trees.

Whatever accommodation type you choose, you’ll be well looked after by the friendly onsite staff.

Plus, you can easily head into Ahipara to grab anything you may have forgotten to pack!

168 Takahe Road, Ahipara 0481

Book: Accommodation at the Ahipara Holiday Park.

Ahipara Holiday Park Camping Grounds Northland
Photo credit: Booking.

As you can see, there are several camping grounds in Northland that you can choose from for your next holiday.

Whether you’re looking to base yourself in Whananaki or love the vibes of Mangawhai, each of these excellent campgrounds should save you plenty of cash!

Have you visited any of these campsites before?

Perhaps you have some top picks that we haven’t mentioned on our list?

If so, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below!


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