For many New Zealanders, summertime means just one thing – time to pack up the tent and the kids and head for the great outdoors. It’s a popular pastime which had some people, due to the sale and subsequent closure of some iconic coastal campgrounds a few years ago, speculating on ‘the death of the campground’.
But fear not. It appears, even though the weather has been a little grey, wet, and cool, camping in New Zealand is alive and well. In fact, rather than a decline, there has been a resurgence in the quintessential Kiwi camping holiday. Some say this is due to the recession while others think it’s due to nostalgia for the good old days. But whatever the cause, camping in New Zealand is definitely in vogue.
From the top of the North Island to the bottom of the South Island, New Zealand is a camper’s paradise, with over 800 auto-accessible campsites to be found at some the most spectacular locations around. Some of privately run, while others are maintained by the New Zealand government’s Department of Conservation.
A new book, Let’s Go Camping, by travel writers Sarah Bennett and Lee Slater in conjunction with the New Zealand Automobile Association, highlights just 66 of these sites. Enthusiastic campers, Bennett and Slater spent months travelling around New Zealand, testing out the campsites, and documenting their favourites.
With plenty of stunning photographs, Let’s Go Camping might look more like a coffee table book than a campground guide. But start reading and you’ll soon discover it is jammed back with information, covering everything from how to camp to protecting the environment.
The book is laid out geographically, with two or three campgrounds highlighted in each region, followed by a more extensive AA listing of other campsites in the region.
For each of the hand-picked campgrounds, there is an in-depth review focusing not only on their special features but also the necessary practical and background information to help campers make an informed decision. There is also information on what to do in that selected area, covering everything from quirky cafes to hiking trails.
Bennett and Slater, who also wrote the definitive tramping book Don’t Forget Your Scroggin, have put in the miles and done their homework. Not only have they found the best campgrounds in the most stunning locations, they have also discovered (and reported) on those featuring exceptional facilities and ambience. As a result, those using Let’s Go Camping to plan their camping holiday are all but guaranteed to experience a quintessential New Zealand experience.
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