New Zealand is the land of picturesque mountains, majestic rivers, crystal lakes, golden coastlines and untamed wilderness. With so many awe-inspiring locations, we’ve asked our Jayco Vanbassador, travel enthusiast and local, Kyle Mulinder aka Bare Kiwi, to share the best destinations to visit while exploring New Zealand in your Jayco.
Gentle Annie Seaside Accommodation – From $14 per adult, per night
50 kilometres north of Westport is Gentle Annie, a coastal enclave surrounded by the Tasman Sea, Mokihinui River and Nikau-fringed native bush.
A destination in its own right, campers here can light a driftwood bonfire on the beach and watch the sunset, fish on river mouth, sample delicious coffee and homemade baking from the Cowshed Cafe, make use of the communal woodfired pizza oven, experience the ‘maze’, enjoy elevated views of the coastline or bike the family-friendly forest bike tracks.
Other nearby attractions include two world-class mountain biking and walking tracks; Old Ghost Road and Heaphy Track, the Oparara Valley with its Limestone Arches and Honeycomb Caves, Cape Foulwind Seal Colony and the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks.
Totaranui Campground – $15 per adult, per night
Follow a windy, gravel road through native forest and arrive at beautiful Totaranui Campsite, deep in the Abel Tasman National Park.
There are no powered sites or hot showers on offer, but that doesn’t stop hundreds of kiwis flocking to paradise. Insider tip: If you plan to camp here over the Christmas and New Year period, make sure you book well in advance.
It’s no wonder Totaranui is a popular campsite! The long golden sand beach stretches for a kilometre, making it a great place to relax, swim or snorkel in the turquoise waters. The sheltered estuary provides safe swimming for young children and keen boaties can easily launch their boats from the concrete ramp.
There are stunning walking tracks on offer such as the Pukatea Loop and Headlands Track, but if you time it right with the tide you can follow the Abel Tasman Coastal Track to Awaroa (three hours) for a refreshing beverage at the Awaroa Lodge before catching a water taxi back to Totaranui.
Port Jackson Campsite – $15 per adult, per night
At the northern tip of the Coromandel Peninsula is another incredible Department of Conservation Campsite, Port Jackson. It’s fair to say the drive isn’t for the faint hearted! But the reward for travelling the 26 km of narrow, single lane (with blind corners in many places) gravel road is a prime beachfront campsite looking out at Great Barrier Island.
The beach is perfect for swimming, paddle boarding, kayaking and boating. Meanwhile, hikers can access the Muriwai Coastal Walk that leads up the headland towards Wharekaiatua Pa following the coast to provide stunning coastal views. An alternative is the coastal walk between Stony and Fletcher Bays.
Mavora Lakes Campsite – $8 per adult, per night
You may have already guessed that there’s a theme in this blog and that’s gravel roads and conservation campsites! Tucked away in Southland is Mavora Lakes Conservation Park and the famous Mavora Lakes Campsites. North Mavora Lake was actually a location for Nen Hithoel in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
The lakeside campsite is surrounded by rugged mountains and this dreamy location has no boundaries as to where you can pitch a tent or park up a caravan or motorhome. It’s also on the Te Araroa Trail and Around the Mountains Cycle Trail. An added bonus is that it’s pet friendly, which a lot of conservation campsites in New Zealand are not.
Tapotupotu Campsite – $15 per adult, per night
Tapotupotu has the title of the most northern campsite in New Zealand. It’s located just a few kilometres from Cape Reinga, where the Tasman Sea collides with the Pacific Ocean, which is a magical place to watch sunrise or sunset.
A photo at the Cape Reinga Lighthouse is a must do as is sand boarding the giant Te Paki sand dunes and driving on 90 Mile Beach (suitable for 4WD vehicles only). There are also walking tracks accessible from both Tapotupotu Campsite and Cape Reinga.
Without a doubt the best way to explore New Zealand is in an RV. When planning your road trip around New Zealand, make sure you don’t forget to stop at locations recommended by Bare Kiwi.