The newest, most unusual Kiwi camping spot

Awaroa Godley Head
Awaroa/Godley Head (Jamie Mortimer, DoC / Facebook)

It's Christmas time and the Kiwi camping season has begun. It's the time when city-dwellers flee for pristine coastlines, lakes and rivers around Aotearoa.

Most of us have a favourite place we head for. But if you're looking for something different, the newest Department of Conservation (DoC) campsite in New Zealand is a beauty.

Godley Head map
The campsite is on the clifftop just around from popular surf beach Taylor's Mistake (DoC)

Awaroa/Godley Head, just out of Christchurch, is a place you've never been able to go camping before. The former military fort at the top of a cliff overlooking Lyttelton Harbour opened as a campsite in October.

If you're not afraid of a bit of wind, this place could be your summer camping adventure. Being a heritage site, it has a lot of stories to tell, and could be a great place for kids to pretend they're in an episode of The Famous Five.

And when it's time for fish and chips, the charming port town of Lyttelton is an easy drive down the hill.

Why camping?

  • It's cheaper than staying in a hotel
  • Burn off the Christmas calories - there's swimming, walking, sunshine and fresh air
  • Watch the sunset in real life instead of on Instagram
  • You can barbecue, every night
  • Do all the things you can't do in town - go fishing, go bird-watching
  • Beach cricket
  • Enjoy friends and family, meet new people or take time to read a good book.

There's a bunch of other new campsites DoC has created in the last few years, like Coquille Bay - a secret gem along the Abel Tasman Coast Track. It can only be accessed on foot, or you can get there by boat.

If you're an Aucklander and you want to unplug, you're lucky to have 44 campgrounds in regional parks within an hour's drive of the city.

Tawharanui is the most popular with white sand beaches on a pest-free peninsula, but there are many stunning places to camp to the southeast of the big smoke.

Omana, Te Wharau, Tawhitokino and Tapapakanga are four secluded camping spots just around the coast from Maraetai, with calm beaches for swimming and fishing. For a bit more adventure you can get a kayak and paddle from one camp to the next over a number of days.