Here at Tāmaki Makaurau, we are fortunate to have dozens of public campgrounds run and maintained by Auckland Council.
But if you’ve already cut your teeth at a few “entry-level” campsites, then maybe it’s time to take the path less travelled.
So if you’re willing to take a few extra steps (and in some cases a kayak), you’ll find that Auckland is home to a wealth of secluded and extremely idyllic campsites where you’ll enjoy a whole new level of escapism.
Karamatura Valley Campground
Just a 20-minute drive west of Titirangi, this big clearing of back-to-basics grass in the Karamatura Valley, near the quiet Waitākere Ranges village of Huia, is pure simplicity.
A stone’s throw from Bryan Bay on Manukau Harbour, the campground sits next to a creek and can only be reached on foot, so you have no choice but to leave all behind. modern appliances or equipment that might clutter up your weekend. There is a compost toilet and stream water must be boiled before use.
A quiet getaway east of Auckland at Ōrere Point on the Firth of Thames, this small campsite can accommodate just twenty people and is part of the Te Ara Moana kayak trail.
It can only be reached on foot at low tide or by small boat, so getting here is quite special.
The cliff boardwalk, clear water, pōhutukawa trees, and campsite at the far end of the beach make Tawhitokino Beach a must-see for this quintessential secluded summer spot for kiwis.
Mita Bay Campground
45 minutes north of Auckland’s CBD, in the Mahurangi Regional Park, this is another little gem accessible only on foot.
Allow about an hour to walk along Mita Bay Track and around the rocks two hours either side of low tide. The effort is definitely worth it.
This grassy campground is located on the calm waters of Mita Bay and surrounded by regenerating native bush.
On the west coast’s famous surf beach, Karekare, this campsite is for tents only and is again a short walk from the car park.
There is an open shelter with a bench, toilets on site and water from the stream must be boiled before consumption. Karekare Beach and Falls are just a three minute drive away.
Te Muri Beach Campsite
This large grass campground is on Te Muri Track, next to Te Muri Beach in Mahurangi West. There is no electricity but plenty of water taps and long toilets on site. Pack light as you have to walk 1.3km across an estuary (at low tide) to get there. Those who have already discovered this campsite love the sand underfoot (notable lack of shells and pebbles) which makes swimming a dream.
Intrepid Bonus Addition: Waitawa Bay
There you have it, adventurers: this campsite is only accessible by sea kayak and allows a maximum stay of two nights.
Depart from Mataitai Wharf at the end of Waitawa Regional Park for a short paddle to a sheltered bay in Tāmaki Strait. Your view overlooks Pakihi Island, from a site with undulating terraces, an open shelter and a bench.
This campsite is part of the Te Ara Moana kayak trail. Relax. Enjoy. It’s paradise found.