The capital city of New Zealand, Wellington, offers some of the most stunning camping and caravanning experiences in the world. In 2001, Lonely Planet dubbed Wellington the “coolest little capital in the world” and ranked it 4th in its top 10 cities to visit. The spectacular natural backdrop of Mount Victoria, used in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, is indicative of the kind of lush, green surrounds you’re likely to encounter on your camping adventures.
Explore the natural beauty of Wellington and its surrounds with a camping experience you’ll never forget.
In and around Wellington there are many camping and holiday parks, caravan parks and motor inns set amongst breathtaking natural scenery. There are a variety of camping-style accommodation options on offer, from tent sites to powered moterhome/campervan sites to nature-cabins. Some of the most popular holiday parks in Wellington include:
- Harcourt Holiday Park
- Wellington Top 10 Holiday Park
- El Rancho
- Paekakariki Holiday Park
- Capital Gateway Motor Inn
- Lindale Motor Park.
Facilities vary, but most holiday parks include modern amenities blocks—with showers, toilets, and kitchen and laundry facilities—and gas barbeques for campers to use.
Conservation camp sites
Around Wellington you can discover some of New Zealand’s most dramatic and beautiful country: there are mountains, giant waterfalls and rainforests to explore. The best way to experience the New Zealand wilderness is to camp right amongst it and take the nearby walking trails on daily hikes. There are several popular conservation camp sites around Wellington, including:
- Catchpool Valley campsite
- Matiu/Somes Island campsite.
Just a 45 minute drive from Wellington, Catchpool Valley campground is a favourite place to set up camp, and is just near the entrance to Rimutaka Forest Park. Or if ‘glamping’ (glamourous camping) is more your thing, the nearby Orongorongo Valley has huts you can book.
In the northern part of Wellington harbour lies the magnificent Matiu/Somes Island. You can catch a ferry from Queens Wharf, Wellington City, or Days Bay—they depart daily.
A highlight for many campers is the walk to the island’s lighthouse, built in 1900, that has a view back across the harbour waters to Wellington’s CBD. While on the island, you can also learn about its extensive Māori history, and the various things the island has been utilised for over the years.
Places to explore
The spectacular cliffs and views of Opua bay have made the 6km Makara walkway loop one of the most popular activities for campers in Wellington. The walkway climbs to a lookout at Fort Opau (a World War 2 relic) and then returns along the pristine beach.
Another favourite place for campers to explore around Wellington is Pencarrow Lakes. These lakes are New Zealand’s last remaining ‘untouched’ wetlands and were formed over 7000 years ago by earthquakes affecting nearby beaches, causing water to flood into the valleys.
Other places to explore in and around Wellington include:
- Taputeranga Marine Reserve
- Turakirae Head Scientific Reserve.
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