Camping in Taupo; Everything You Need to Know to Relax by the Lake

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A town located on the coast of the Lake Taupo, New Zealand's largest lake, Taupo lies in the centre of the North Island, approximately 273 kilometres from Auckland. With activities like bungy jumping, fishing, kayaking, skydiving, hiking, hot pools and many more to do, camping in Taupo is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of the region.

Camping in Taupo is also a superb way of cutting down accommodation costs while getting to experience a one of a kind activity. There are three types of camping facilities in Taupo, namely - Freedom Camping, Holiday Parks and Department of Conservation(DOC) campsites. The main differences between the three are given below:

Types of Camping in Taupo:

Freedom Camping

It is a great option for those who own a certified self-contained campervan. These vehicles can be parked in designated areas owned privately for a maximum of two nights, while in areas owned by the Department of Conservation for freedom camping have a limit of four nights.

Holiday Parks

These are areas that offer pitches for tents and have a range of high-quality facilities like powered sites, thermal pools, laundry rooms, etc. Unsurprisingly, their cost is also high as compared to other options.

Department of Conservation (DOC) Campsites

These campsites are owned by the DOC and have basic and minimal facilities at a very reasonable price, sometimes even free. Tents, campervans, etc. are all allowed to camp on the DOC sites.

Where to go Camping in Taupo

Camping by the Lake
Taupo has many family-friendly holiday parks and campgrounds in exciting locations with beautiful spectacles of nature. Below are listed some of the best and most popular campsites in Taupo:
  • Taupo Top 10 Holiday Park: 

    Spread over 5 acres, it is a well-maintained, clean, safe and spacious camping and caravan site situated only 1.5 kilometres from the Lake Taupo. Powered campsites, motels, cabin accommodations and self-contained units are all available here. Pre-booking the campsite is best to avoid the summer rush.
Studio Motel NZD 129 - 163 
Self-contained units NZD 129 -  140                         
Cabins NZD 44 - 110                         
Powered Sites NZD 52 - 54                         
On-site Caravan from NZD 90
  • Taupo Debretts Spa Resort:

    An exotic 5-star resort facing the Lake Taupo and only 808 metres away from it, it has several accommodation options ranging from luxury lodges to a full-fledged camping experience. With facilities like outdoor hot pools and springs, waterparks and a big bounce air pad for children, it is a treat for all age groups. It is recommended to pre-book the accommodation, especially during peak season.
Cost:  NZD  30 -  450
  • Reid's Farm: 

    Situated on the banks of River Waikato, it is a recreational farm reserve which allows both, self-contained and non-self-contained vehicles to camp, as well as tent camping. A maximum stay of seven nights is allowed while camping. Toilet and waste disposal facilities are available.
Cost: The best part is that the stay is absolutely free!
  • Whakaipo Bay Recreation Reserve:

    Although only for certified self-contained vehicles and 10 kilometres out of Taupo, it is an exquisite campsite with farm surroundings where activities like mountain bike riding take place. Facilities are limited and are not enough to assist non-self-contained campers.
Cost: Free
  • Wairakei Thermal Valley Holiday Park:

    Located only minutes away from Lake Taupo, near the splendid Huka Falls, this holiday park is unique because of its active geothermal areas. With excellent accommodation facilities and adventure activities, it is worth a stay.
         Cost: NZD 130 - 300 (in peak season)

Things to Know While Camping in Taupo

  • Intercity(Bus)- NZD 1 - 200(Adult), NZD 1 -  150(Child)
  • Taxis- $ 6.50(minimum) + Tolls are additional
  • Car Rental- $ 10 onwards
  • Mountain Bike Rental- $ 60(Full day)
  • Average Daily Food Cost: NZD 23
  • Seafood is a must-try in Taupo. Lazy Trout café is recommended for the same. Also, try out the Taupo Beef and New Zealand's famous Manuka honey.
  • While freedom camping, a maximum of three nights/four days is allowed before you have to move irrespective of whether you have a self-contained vehicle. Also, never park your campervan outside of designated areas, doing which will invite a fine of $ 200.
  • While visiting the beautiful city of Taupo, it will be interesting to learn about their culture, about something known as the Tiaki Promise, which means to act as guardians and protectors of the environment, preserving it and keeping it clean.

Best Time to Visit for Camping in Taupo

Although Taupo can be visited throughout the year as the weather remains pleasant, it is best to visit it during summers(December to February). One can experience adventure activities and water sports best during summers while camping by the lake in the lazy afternoons.  

What to Pack for Camping in Taupo

Pack your things according to the weather and the activities you plan to do. Below is a general list of things which will make your visit as comfortable as possible:

  • Tents
  • Sleeping Bags
  • Sleeping Mats
  • Mosquito nets and repellant
  • Torches and batteries
  • Stoves/Barbeque
  • First Aid Kit
  • Extra ropes and cable ties
  • Waste disposal bags
  • Suitable clothing and footwear
  • Toiletries
  • Hiking boots
  • Necessary travel documents
  • Other miscellaneous items
Travel smart and safe while camping in Taupo! Let us know in the comments below what your favourite spot to camp in Taupo is!

This post was published by Vidushi Nigam

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