Completely happy tenting: The place to pitch a tent in Nelson Tasman


With bright white and gold sand underfoot and national reserves in every direction, Nelson Tasman is one of the most picturesque places you could possibly pitch a tent in New Zealand.

It’s no surprise that Kiwis are quick to nab bookings here in the summer months. So be sure to book well in advance if you want to bunk under the stars between Christmas and February.

Holidaymakers at Tōtaranui in the Abel Tasman National Park.

Marion van Dijk

Holidaymakers at Tōtaranui in the Abel Tasman National Park.

You don’t need to pack a tent to get involved – beachfront powered sites, self-contained units and three-bedroom apartments are among the options available across the region. Either way, what could be better than waking up next to impeccably clear waters and then setting off for the journey of a lifetime through lush native bush?

Totaranui Campground

Tōtaranui Beach is a dreamy spot in summer.

David T/Unsplash

Tōtaranui Beach is a dreamy spot in summer.

Positioned within arm’s reach of golden sands and the northern end of the Abel Tasman National Park is Tōtaranui Campground.

* Nelson Lakes National Park: An underrated gem of the South Island
* What it’s like to grow up next to Kaiteriteri Beach, one of the world’s best beaches
* A guide to Abel Tasman National Park: when to go, where to stay and what to do

The campground is hugely popular in the warmer months, and even though it has 269 non-powered sites, with room for up to 850 campers, restrictions apply on the length of stays.

Camping on the beach side of the access road is reserved for those walking the Abel Tasman Coast Track. Those staying in one spot have several short walks on-hand as well as the long sheltered stretch at their fingertips for kayaking, paddleboarding and swimming. At the northern end, the tidal estuary is a calm spot for younger ones to splash around.

The camp is accessible by road and there is a seasonal bus service, plus daily water taxis from Kaiteriteri and Mārahau.

Pohara Beach Top 10 Holiday Park

Brent and Del Clarke, owners of Pohara Beach Top 10 Holiday Park.

Braden Fastier/Nelson Mail

Brent and Del Clarke, owners of Pohara Beach Top 10 Holiday Park.

Just nine kilometers from Tākaka village, and with both Abel Tasman and Kahurangi National Parks on its doorstep, this Top 10 Holiday Park is the perfect base to access the greater Tasman region.

The pet-friendly camp has room for the whole family across a range of units and cabins, including beachfront powered and unpowered sites, self-contained motel units and one wheelchair accessible unit.

Pōhara Beach is only a few footsteps away, providing ample space to stretch out on your towel, plus access to plenty of on-water activities – from kayaking to windsurfing and swimming.

The holiday park typically runs at full capacity in the high season.

Kerr Bay Campsite

The Lake Rotoiti Jetty provides a brilliant photo opportunity.


The Lake Rotoiti Jetty provides a brilliant photo opportunity.

From the beach to the beech forest, Kerr Bay Campsite is situated next to Lake Rotoiti in Nelson Lakes National Park, around an hour north of Nelson.

The DOC campground is open year-round and proves particularly popular with those climbing to the St Arnaud ridgeline thanks to the convenience of hot showers and laundry facilities. There are 15 non-powered tent sites and powered sites to choose from.

Those who would rather stay put than tackle the 10-kilometer return hike still have plenty to do. The lake is a brilliant destination for kayaking, boating and paddleboarding in summer, and you can’t leave without grabbing a photo on the iconic jetty at Kerr Bay.

The cute alpine village of St Arnaud is a 500-metre walk from the camp. If you want some luxury during your stay, pop over to the Alpine Lodge for hearty seasonal cuisine.

Kaiteriteri Reserve Camp

The lookout across Kaiteriteri Beach, Nelson Tasman.

The lookout across Kaiteriteri Beach, Nelson Tasman.

Situated right by the golden sands of summer hotspot, Kaiteriteri Beach, the Kaiteriteri Reserve Camp has over 400 powered campsites which cater to campervans and tents.

The Beach Zone offers powered campsites year-round, while the Bush Zone (only open in summer and autumn) is bordered by bush and estuary. The region’s picture-perfect lagoon is a sheltered spot for swimming and kayaking, while multiple adventure operators launch from the region.

The holiday park is another gateway for walkers taking on the Abel Tasman Coast Track, although the turquoise waters and quality dining options are hard to look past.

The all-day Waterfront restaurant serves coffee and cocktails with beach views to match, while the Kaiteriteri Store and petrol station will meet all your camping needs.

Tahuna Beach Holiday Park

Tāhuna Beach Holiday Park and The Back Beach at high tide at Tāhunanui Beach.

Martin de Ruyter/Stuff

Tāhuna Beach Holiday Park and The Back Beach at high tide at Tāhunanui Beach.

Tāhuna Beach Holiday Park is located just over four kilometers from Nelson center and adjacent to the main stretch of the stunning Tāhunanui, or “Back Beach” as it’s known to locals.

The holiday park was first established in 1926 and covers an expansive 54 acres of parkland. The White Zone is closest to the holiday park entrance, offering easy access to the mini golf course and one of three playgrounds on-site, as well as the reception and café. Disabled and parenting facilities live here too. The Green Zone is the most scenic area sitting on the edge of Tasman Bay.

Further accommodation options range from classic motel rooms that can sleep five to studio units and a spacious three-bedroom residence with room for up to nine people.

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