Picking the best campsite for your first family camping trip

With the arrival of spring, now is the ideal time to plan your first-ever camping trip with the children. With most New Zealand children spending an average of 2 hours a day in front of an electronic screen, according to a report compiled by the Ministry of Education, spending time outdoors will be of great benefit to the whole family. While it may be very tempting to just throw a tent and most of your household belongings into the car with your kids, it does require a bit more planning to pull off a stress-free debut camping trip. One of the biggest considerations is the campsite you are going to visit. Although NZ has a myriad of decent, family-friendly sites, it is important to pick one that will suit your family’s individual needs the best.

Find a site close to home

When taking the children camping for the first time it comes highly recommended to keep it as close to home as possible. Camping close to home can have many benefits including the ability to avoid a long drive which, more often than not, leaves the children irritable and the parents ready to go back home right away. It also helps camping in an area you are familiar with, knowing the exact whereabouts of the nearest doctor, grocery store and other amenities you might need at short notice. If anything goes wrong during your trip, it is significantly easier to pack up and go home if you are only a couple of miles away as opposed to having driven half-way across the country to camp. Luckily, regardless of where in New Zealand you are resident, the chances are very good that you will have a family-friendly camping spot near your home that is ideal for your first family camping trip.

Pick a campsite with large stands and useful amenities

When trying to make a choice between the countless camping spots available, take the size of the stands into consideration. The larger the stand, the more space you and your family and all your camping gear will have to make yourself comfortable in, especially if you have smaller children that like to run around outside and you want to keep them within view. A larger stand will improve your level of comfort. If your tent is exceptionally large or if you consider taking a caravan or RV, you need to double check that your chosen stand will comfortably fit everything you are planning to bring along on your trip as the last thing you want is to be cramped for space with children in tow. Don’t forget that you will usually need to fit your vehicle on to your tent site too. Be sure to pick a campsite that offers a clean ablution block and, if needed, kitchen facilities. If you need a few extra comforts, book a site with electricity. If you want to really get off the grid, note that there are strict rules around ‘freedom camping‘ in New Zealand.

If you feel slightly overwhelmed planning your maiden camping trip, don’t despair. As with everything else in life involving your children, you will find a way to make it work simply by doing a bit of research and relying on your own instinct and creativity. Even if the trip does not go according to plan you will still get to spend some quality time with your family away from the distraction of TV screens and gaming devices.

Sally WritesThis article was written by Sally Sykes with additional information from Kidspot NZ. Sally is a freelance writer who left her corporate job for a life of freedom. She regularly travels with her family and absolutely loves camping in the great outdoors.










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  1. MuddledUpMolly 25/09/2018 at 8:18 pm

    My husband and I have taken our now eight year old son and almost two year old daughter on an annual camping trip somewhere around New Zealand every year for the past four years. We love getting away as a family and so far have tried four completely different locations to try and find our perfect spot. New Zealand has so many wonderful camping destinations and it’s great to see people getting out there and experiencing it.

  2. Shelz69 22/09/2018 at 6:01 pm

    I still haven’t been brave enough to try camping on my own with the children. It something I would feel safer about if I had a man with me, but I’m determined that I will be brave enough to try it one day. Maybe like it was suggested and go somewhere close to home first.

  3. Shorrty4life1 22/09/2018 at 4:49 pm

    We have just brought a cute little camper van. We love tenting but hey new opportunities eh. Next I reckon we will get an awning up next to it so we can semi go part camping still haha 😂. We have planned heaps of camping trips even one over Christmas and also one at the end of October. Wahoo for great weather now.

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