The closure of New Zealand’s borders due to the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020 precipitated a huge upheaval in the motorhome market. Since New Zealanders weren't able to indulge their love of international travel, they took to touring their own backyard in record numbers, with many Kiwis putting money intended for international travel into the purchase of a motorhome.
Motorhome camping is a great option for those with a love of road trips, together with the comfort of having your own self-contained space. With this rise in popularity in mind, we've put together everything you need to know to kickstart a Motorhome Camping holiday in New Zealand, which includes an adventure on the Hauraki Rail Trail.
Riding the Ngā Haerenga Great Rides of New Zealand is free, and you can organise your trip so that it doesn’t cost the Earth. New Zealand has some excellent camping grounds, and they’re a great way to meet other families in a friendly environment.
Accommodation options cater for all budgets and guests - families, couples, groups, and individuals. Some parks even allow pets!
Holiday parks and camping grounds are often independently owned by Kiwis, with rich local knowledge of the area and everything it offers visitors. Friendly park owners can point you in the direction of the best activities, attractions and hidden gems to explore, adding to the enjoyment of your adventure.
Holiday parks and campgrounds are great for families, as they usually have play areas, heated swimming pools, trampolines and barbecues. Often you'll also have the use of a dining area and a comfortable TV lounge.
Situated in a variety of locations, it's easy to use the parks as a base to explore the local history, culture, walking, food and wine, family fun and of course the bike trails.
The campgrounds are often in or close to small townships where you can buy food, which allows you to travel light. Bear in mind it pays to book ahead during the busy Summer season.
Holiday Parks offer fully integrated accommodation options, from motels and self contained units through to cabins, tent and powered sites for caravans, motorhomes, campervans, RVs and winniebagoes.
While some may be non-powered, there are powered sites, which includes use of communal facilities such as kitchen, showers, toilets and laundry. Cabins and self-contained units usually include a private bathroom and kitchen facilities.
A motorhome or campervan does double duty as your accommodation and transport, and can truly be your home away from home.
With water on two sides and just a block away from the beach, the NZMCA Park is perfectly sited for members to enjoy all the area has to offer. NZMCA Parks are always about fostering a relationship with the local community. Money raised from members staying at the park is often used to support projects and improvements that benefit the local community.
Photo: NZMCA Motorhome Park - Kaiaua
Waihopuhopu POP (Park Over Property) - 25 Pukekereru Lane, East Coast Road Kaiaua (09 232 2964)
The NZMCA Park Over Property (POP) Scheme first started in 1991, with one member offering overnight parking at her property. It has since grown into a unique network of overnight parking locations on private land throughout New Zealand, that welcomes members and provides a safe place for them to park overnight. Non-members are welcome to stay at POPs, however they must be self-contained.
Just north of Kaiaua is a privately owned POP campground. The site is suitable for self-contained camping, and there is water on-site and it's dog friendly. With the beach directly across the road, it's a magic place to stop overnight. There are only 9 beach front sites, so visitors must book ahead to stay at this popular camping ground.
Photo: Waihopuhopu POP Campground
Photo: The beach opposite Waihopuhopu POP Campground
Rays Rest Reserve - Kaiaua
Rays Rest Reserve is off the East Coast Road, approximately 4 km south of the Kaiaua township and is adjacent to the Firth of Thames. Camping is restricted to self-contained vehicles holding and displaying current certification. Visitors may stay for up to two nights, and power is not available. The area is spacious and allocation is on a first come, first served basis. Freedom camping is prohibited on the southern and northern part of the Reserve, including the beach. Standard rules apply, take rubbish with you, dispose of grey water in designated dumpstations, and obey signage. The wetland environment is home to thousands of migratory birds, and is a magical area to explore.
Photo: Rays Rest Reserve
Photo: Miranda Holiday Park
Award winning Miranda Holiday Park offers a choice of first class self-catering accommodation to suit all budgets and needs. Superior Qualmark rated 4 star plus holiday accommodation and campervan park in beautifully landscaped surroundings.
Situated on the scenic Auckland / Coromandel Pacific Coast Highway, it’s an oasis with hot mineral pool on-site and offers a great get away for the whole family. Guests can enjoy high standard communal facilities, kitchen, laundry, lounge, TV room, Internet, BBQs, children's playground, tennis court, trampoline, petanque, outdoor table tennis, trikes and bikes for hire, cycling and walking trail, BMX track and recreation field.
Although the Park doesn't allow dogs or other pets in units or main accommodation areas, they do have 11 fenced and gated Pet Sites. These are ideal for Campervans and Tenters travelling with their Pets. There’s an exercise paddock provided too. All of the new pet-friendly sites are suitable for a large van with awning, or as a large tent site, and all have power and water.
1 Pūkorokoro-Miranda Shorebird centre / Bird hides - learn about the area’s precious birdlife and view the Shorebirds up close.
2 Miranda Farm Shop, Café and Gallery - stop at the café, and enjoy one of the regular exhibitions of New Zealand print makers, painters, ceramicists and sculptors.
3 Stop off at the Bugger Cafe - just 50 metres from the Pipiroa Bridge, this quirky cafe makes for an easy stop on your journey. Food is fresh, seasonal and local wherever possible.
4 Historic Kopu Bridge - the last remaining operational swing span bridge in New Zealand. The bridge occasionally opens for walkers and cyclists, offering a great opportunity to experience our industrial heritage.
5 Community Arts Trail - as you approach the town centre, stop and enjoy the many sculptures. along the community’s Arts Trail. Amongst the new artworks is a giant Jandal, and a six metre tall toy train.
Photo: Dickson Holiday Park
Just four kilometres from the centre of Thames, the Park is ideally located to explore the Hauraki Rail Trail and Coromandel Peninsula. Set beside a stream, and surrounded by native bush it’s also the site of the remains of the Brown and Campbel gold processing stamper battery.
The Park has a wide range of units available, from shared backpacker bunkrooms to fully self contained units and motel units. There are also communal amenities available for guests.
Dickson Holiday Park also offers a range camping options, has a swimming pool open in summer, BBQ facilities, TV and games room for guests as well as Mini Golf and play areas for children.
Thames Coromandel District Council Freedom Camping Park - Thames
The camping ground is ideally located on Queen Street, in the vicinity of the Goldfields Shopping Mall, JollyBikes and the Thames CBD. It's an easy cycle ride to the Trail Head and The Wharf Coffee House & Bar at Shortland Wharf.
Photo: TCDC Freedom Camping Park - Thames
Self contained campervans and Motorhomes are welcome at the Historical Maritime Park in Paeroa, and power is available. Visitors must take all rubbish and waste away with them.
The Park was once New Zealand’s most inland port, and the Museum has significant links dating back to pre-European settlement and the arrival of Captain James Cook in 1769 aboard HMS Endeavour.
Recent upgrades have linked the Park to Wharf St in Paeroa, with a new purpose-built community jetty on the Ohinemuri River. There are three new pontoons along with a refurbished riverboat which transports visitors from the Park along the Ohinemuri River into Paeroa.
Photo credit: Historical Maritime Park, Paeroa
Freedom Camping Site - Paeroa
For those wishing to use Paeroa as a base, Hauraki District Council offer a Freedom Camping spot in Marshall Street. With a supermarket and local cafes nearby, it's a convenient location from which to explore the Trail.
Photo: Marshall Street, Paeroa - Freedom Camping Spot
1 Fish & Chips at The Wharf Café Bar - brunch, lunch or dinner, The Wharf is well worth a visit to fuel up or unwind with good food, a beer, wine or cold drink.
2 Thames School of Mines - one of New Zealand’s largest and best-preserved mining schools in the heart of the Hauraki gold fields.
3 The Cheese Barn Matatoki - make the most of the Cafe, cheese tastings, and the fabulous animal farm. They are also a POP (Park Over Property), for fully self-contained Motorhomes and Caravans.
4 Historical Maritime Park - once New Zealand’s most inland port. Hop on the riverboat and head to the township of Paeroa, via the Waihou and Ohinemuri Rivers.
5 Paeroa Antique Shops - arrive into Paeroa early enough to fossick through the many antiques and collectables shops.
More information: Destination Coromandel
If you need a place to park your camper or motorhome while you enjoy the activities and attractions of Waihi, powered and non-powered sites are available at 38 Wrigley St, Waihi. All income from the campground goes towards helping to maintain the rail heritage site. The ground has access to toilets and running water, with motorhomes, cars, campervans and caravans welcome.
Photo credit: Goldfields Railway Station - Waihi, Campground
This campsite is located in Karangahake Gorge, beside the Waitawheta River, known for its trout and some great swimming holes downstream. Caravans, campervans and motorhomes less than 11 m long are able to set up in the carpark, near the walk in area to the campsite.
Located just 5 minutes from Waihi town centre, set in a relaxing rural setting on the banks of the Waitete stream, Waihi Camp & Cabins offers plenty of space to walk and explore in a family-focused campground.
A variety of accommodation options includes rustic log cabins, family units, standard cabins as well as backpacker rooms (catering for larger families or biking/hiking groups). Powered and non-powered sites are available.
The camp is only a short walk or bike ride to Waihi town centre, the Hauraki Rail Trail, and local cafes and restaurants.
Enjoy a refreshing dip in the swimming pool after a day on the Trail, relax in tranquil surroundings, or head out to explore everything Waihi and Waihi Beach has to offer visitors. Lock up bike storage is also available for guests.
Photo: Waihi Camp & Cabins
Visitors might wish to extend their stay and explore nearby Waihi Beach. The pretty coastal town has some of the best walking and cycle tracks, and sought after boutique shopping and dining.
The Waihi Beach NZMCA Motorhome Park is located at 103 Emerton Road, Waihi Beach. The Park has a 50 Motorhome Capacity, and the Member Site ID is 2392.
1 Owharoa Falls - nestled in the heart of the Gorge, the Falls make an ideal picnic spot while riding the Trail. If it’s warm enough cool off with a swim in the crystal-clear fresh water.
2 Falls Retreat - this stunning venue offers award winning dining and boutique accommodation options. Book ahead to enjoy Social Pizza Nights, Paddock to Plate 4-course degustation, or Sunday lunch.
3 Goldfields Railway - operating a daily timetable between Waihi and Waikino, riders can take their bike on the vintage train for the 30 minute journey.
4 Windows Walk - starting from the Karangahake Gorge carpark it's about an hour round trip. Along the track visitors can observe relics of the many processes that took place in extracting gold.
5 Waihi Gold Discovery Centre & Martha Mine - a fun and interactive experience which makes the gold heritage come alive. Wander across the street to view the Martha Mine, and take the tour to experience a modern working gold mine in action.
Photo: Te Aroha Holiday Park Swimming Pool
The Te Aroha Holiday Park is a unique country camping experience in one of New Zealand’s few remaining traditional holiday parks in the Waikato. Set in beautiful rural settings, surrounded by dairy farms and views of Mount Te Aroha, there are plenty of walking, biking and tramping tracks. All amenities are just a few minutes drive or a short walk from the Park.
Guests can choose from camping, cabins, cottages and tourist flats - motel style flats ideal for families. Tent and camper van sites, adventure playground, mineral hot pool, hydro spa, swimming pool. Please note the Te Aroha Holiday Park is located 4km south of Te Aroha at 217 Stanley Road South.
The Te Aroha NZMCA Motorhome Park is located at 38 Stanley Ave, Te Aroha. The Park has a 65 Motorhome Capacity, and the Member Site ID number is 1358.
1 Te Aroha Township - this small and rural town has a lovely domain, and is home to some great walkways, quirky art and cafes.
2 Quirky sculptures - local Sculptor Adrian Worsley designs and constructs unique and original sculptures entirely from recycled materials. Look out for sculptures functioning as bicycle racks and a drinking fountain.
3 Te Aroha Mineral Spas - Nestled at the foot of Mount Te Aroha is the Te Aroha Mineral Spas. Renowned for their healing properties since the 1800’s, it’s the perfect way to soothe tired muscles and unwind after a days riding.
4 Kayak Tour Adventure Te Aroha - a perfect half day excursion from the Hauraki Rail Trail, with a variety of different tours on offer. Custom Tours are available, but must be booked in advance.
5 Lunch at Ironique Cafe & Bar - Open 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The freshly prepared and innovative options cater for everyone.
Te Aroha i-site
102 Whitaker Street, Te Aroha, New Zealand
Ph: 07 884 8052
Photo: Community View Campground
Café 77 is situated right on the Hauraki Rail Trail half way between Te Aroha and Matamata, in what was once the old derelict Manawaru Dairy Factory. Welcoming cyclists not only for great food, coffee and drinks, there is also a wide range of bike racks, an air compressor and bike tool kits to keep riders comfortable on their journey.
There is plenty of off road vehicle parking for cyclists to use as the start or end point to their day on the Trail. The on site event centre Community View is available for group gatherings, complete with a climbing wall for the adventurous, and within the lovely landscaped grounds there is a Motorhome and Caravan Park. The Park only suits self contained units, as there are no powered sites, toilets or water. The Park is dog friendly, and so guests are welcome to bring their four legged friends.
Firth Tower Museum offer self contained motorhome/caravan stop over sites. You can drive into the car park at any time of the day or night, and there are powered and non-powered sites available. There is a public toilet and fresh water available, and with the Historic village on your door step you can enjoy a stroll around the gardens and buildings.
Photo: Firth Tower Museum Motorhome Site
1 The Old Forge Kitchen or Café 77 - two great cafes welcoming cyclists for great food, coffee and drinks. At Café 77 you'll also find bike racks, an air compressor and tool kits to keep you comfortable on your journey.
2 Housewithnonails - this totally handcrafted barn is unlike any other homestay in New Zealand. Contact host Jen to discover options for quick coffee visits, event hosting, Pop Up Gigs and overnight stays. The barn can accommodate 16 guests.
3 Firth Tower - enjoy the tranquil gardens, picnic under oak trees, and explore the museum displays housed across 13 buildings.
4 Wairere Falls - after your ride, return to enjoy the Falls. The return walk to the base of the Falls takes about an hour and a half along a well-maintained track. Please note the track isn't suitable for bikes.
5 Hobbiton Movie Set - Exclusive tours recount how the beautiful Waikato farmland was transformed into The Shire from Middle-earth. Enjoy a Festive Feast lunch or the Evening Banquet Tour at dusk includes a feast fit for a Hobbit.
45 Broadway, Matamata, New Zealand
Ph: 07 888 7260
Freedom Camping sites are available across the Trail Network within the three District Councils.
Hauraki District Council
Hauraki Rail Trail Terminus, Kaiaua
The Hauraki Rail Trail terminus is on East Coast Road, just north of the Kaiaua township. Freedom camping is restricted to designated carparks. Power is not available.
Railway Reserve Paeroa
The site is located on Marshall Street, Paeroa. A dump station is available at the site which incurs a fee. A facilities fee of $5 per vehicle per night is charged, which must be prepaid at the Caltex service station in Belmont Road.
Hauraki District Council office carpark, Paeroa
The carpark is located on Marshall Street, Paeroa. The carpark is only to be used between the hours of 6pm Friday and 7pm Sunday evening. Power is not available.
Hauraki District Council carpark, Waihi
The carpark is off Mueller Street and Haszard Street. Freedom camping is restricted to designated carparks. Power is not available.
Morgan Park carpark, Waihi
Freedom camping is restricted to the carpark off Kenny Street and limited to designated carparks. Freedom camping is restricted to self-contained vehicles holding and displaying current NZS 5465-2001 certification. Power is not available.
Dump station locations
Railway Reserve, Paeroa, at the designated freedom camping area.
Orchard West Road, Ngatea, next to the designated freedom camping area located behind the Council Area Office.
50 Victoria Street, Waihi, southern end of Victoria Street just before the bridge.
East Coast Road, Waharau, at Waharau Reserve.
Thames Coromandel District Council
Danby Field carpark and entrance, Thames
Rhodes Park Reserve, Thames, 449 Ngati Maru Highway, SH25
Brown Street from Walter Street to Thames Squash Club, Thames.
Matamata-Piako District Council
The following reserves provide space for informal camping, however motorhomes must be self-contained and have their own toilet and water supply on board.
Te Aroha Council Office, Kenrick Street (on the gravel car park at the rear of the building.
Visitors travelling in motorhomes must dispose of their wastewater responsibly by visiting a dump station. Dump stations are located at:-
Te Aroha - Te Aroha Boat Ramp Reserve, Terminus Street
Matamata - Hetana Street Reserve, Hetana Street
Restricted Sites for Freedom Camping in the area
Freedom camping sites are available for a maximum one-night or two-night stay in any calendar month, as indicated by the onsite signage. Please adhere to these limits so that many people have a chance to camp. Check the signs for other special conditions, too.
Rays Rest, Kaiaua - The reserve is off East Coast Road, approximately 4.5 km south of Kaiaua township and adjacent to the Firth of Thames. Camping is restricted to self-contained vehicles holding and displaying current NZS 5465:2001 certification, maximum two-night stay in any one calendar month. Power is NOT available.
Designated Freedom Camping Sites and Dump Stations within the Hauraki District
Hauraki District Council Area Office, Ngatea - The site is located behind the Council Area Office off Orchard West Road, Ngatea. Dump station plus carparks available for one overnight stay. Power is NOT available.
Hauraki District Council Area Office carpark, Paeroa - The carpark is located on Marshall Street, Paeroa. Carparks available for one overnight stay - only to be used between the hours of 6pm Friday evening and 7pm Sunday evening. Power is NOT available.
Railway Reserve, Paeroa - The site is located on Marshall Street, Paeroa. Dump station plus carparks available as per the Council signage at the site. Power is available at this site which incurs a facilities fee of $5 per vehicle per night, which must be prepaid at the Caltex service station in Belmont Road.
Victoria Park, Waihi - The site is located on Seddon Avenue, Waihi. Dump station. Power is NOT available.
*Please note that freedom camping (includes tenting) is not permitted on Council reserves (grass areas) adjacent to the carparks listed above.
« Back to articles