Find the Best Campsites on the North Island… That are Cheap Too!
Sleep under the stars alongside the North Island’s beaches, within its forests or alongside its picturesque rivers by staying at the best campsites on the North Island. While there are many stunning campsites that you have to pay a premium for, we’ve put together a list of scenic spots that are also cheap campsites on the North Island.
If you’re new to this whole camping thing, be sure to prepare with our camping guide to New Zealand, as well as our Camping Essentials Checklist for New Zealand.
1. Waikawau Bay Campsite
Not only is Waikawau Bay Campsite in the Coromandel the largest campsite run by the Department of Conservation (DOC) but it’s one of the most scenic! The campsite is nestled between a white-sand beach, estuary and wetlands. There are limited powered sites available for those wanting to hook up to electricity. If you’re looking for a “quiet” spot, however, this might not be the best campsite on the North Island for you.
Check out Waikawau Bay Campsite on the DOC website.
2. Urupukapuka Bay Campsite
Either boat or take the ferry from Paihia or Russell to get to this island campsite in the Bay of Islands. The Urupukapuka Bay Campsite is a top place for tenting, with gorgeous beaches, hilltops and access to island walks. Learn more about visiting Urupukapuka Island in The Best Day Trips from Paihia.
Check out Urupukapuka Bay Campsite on the DOC website.
3. Matai Bay Campsite
The Far North is famous for its campsites besides long sweeping beaches, with the most accessible and beautiful being the Matai Bay Campsite. The sheltered bay is scattered with pohutukawa trees that are in red bloom during summer. The campsite has flush toilets and cold showers.
Check out Matai Bay Campsite on the DOC website.
4. Mangatutu Hot Springs Campsite
Surrounded by bush beside the Mohaka River in Hawke’s Bay, the Mangatutu Hot Springs Campsite is well off the beaten track. Not only is it a free campsite on the North Island, but it has a cool hot pool set-up with bathing pools fed by natural hot springs. The campsite also has toilets and a water supply.
Check out Mangatutu Hot Springs Campsite on the DOC website.
5. Waitoetoe Campsite
For a scenic back-to-basics holiday, check out the Waitoetoe Campsite just north of New Plymouth. Stay on the absolute beachfront on the Taranaki coastline with black sands and rugged cliffs. The campsite has flush toilets, a water supply and can only be accessed on foot along a 300m (328-yard) track.
Check out Waitoetoe Campsite on the DOC website.
6. Sanctuary Campsite
A true forest experience, the Sanctuary Campsite is a free campsite in the Whirinaki Forest Park. With only three camping spots, you can be assured that you’re noisest neighbours are the birds, which include kaka parrots, red and yellow-crowned kakariki (parakeet), kiwi, robin and kereru (wood pigeon). There’s a short walk from the campsite designed to be walked after dark.
Check out Sanctuary Campsite on the DOC website.
7. Lake Tutira Campsite
While road tripping in Hawke’s Bay, stay the night at this picturesque and cheap campsite on the North Island. Lake Tutira Campsite offers lakefront camping with access to hiking trails, fishing and swimming. The campsite is basic with toilets and a water supply.
Check out Lake Tutira Campsite on the DOC website.
8. Dickey Flat Campsite
Those looking for a more peaceful side of the popular Karangahake Gorge between Waihi and Paeroa will find it at Dickey Flat Campsite. Fish for trout, find swimming holes downstream from the campsite, and enjoy various hiking options. The campsite has toilets and a water supply.
Check out Dickey Flat Campsite on the DOC website.
9. Graces Stream Campsite
Escape to nature just a short drive from Wellington at the Graces Stream Campsite. While there are other camping options in the Remutaka Forest Park, Graces Stream is the cheapest and the most stunning, nestled in the forest alongside a stream. It’s only an 800m (875-yard) walk from the nearest car park.
Check out Graces Stream Campsite on the DOC website.
10. Manganuku Campsite
Alongside the Waioeka River on a scenic journey between Gisborne and Opotiki, Manganuku Campsite is beautiful and vastly underrated. It has a good set-up of attractive picnic benches, barbecue and fire pits, as well as toilets and access to water. The campsite’s main claim to fame, however, is its position beside one of the few remaining “historic Howe truss bridges” in the country.
Check out Manganuku Campsite on the DOC website.