Camping in North Canterbury: Best Family Holiday Spots

It’s that time of year again–barbecues, beaches, swimming and sun! October to February is the perfect time to take your family’s kiwi summer camping trip. 

Here Are Our Top Camping Picks Around North Canterbury: 

Hanmer Springs

Hanmer Top 10 A great option for families. Its brand new toilet/ shower block provides fantastic hot showers, there are powered and non-powered camping sites available, and lots for the kids to do including Mountain Bike and Go-cart hire and a bouncing pillow.

It’s only 5 minutes walk from Hanmer Village and the incredible Hanmer Springs Hot Pools.

The Top 10 is also close to lots of walking/biking tracks in the surrounding forest. 


Department of Conservation sites are dotted all over the country and are some of the cheapest places to camp.

The DOC Campsite in Kaikoura at Puhi Puhi is one of these. Most DOC sites have shower/toilet facilities and some have kitchens, fire pits, barbecues or laundry facilities.

Staying anywhere along the Kaikoura coastline is fantastic for diving and exploring the beach. Paia Point, Boat Harbour and Goose Bay are beautiful spots along the coast. 

A favorite with the kids Kaikoura Peketa Beach Holiday Park has easy access to showers etc, great playground with a swing boat and flying fox, mini golf, and a little shop with real fruit ice-cream. The kitchen facilities are great too.

Choose a water-side site or camp under the shade of the trees to give the kids a break from the sun. 

When you camp at The Alpine-Pacific Holiday Park in Kaikoura you get free access to their swimming pool and hot tubs, but it is often booked out, so get in early! 


If you need to stick close to Christchurch (if one parent still has to work, for example), Woodend is a nice option. Woodend Beach Holiday Park is an attractive campground with plenty of space to explore. Woodend has lots of activities organized over the summer and there are a number of fun things to do nearby, such as Horse trekking.

The beach, which is right next to the campground, is safe for little kids and, at times, perfect for surfing. 

Ashley Gorge

If you prefer to holiday near a river, Ashley Gorge Holiday Park is the perfect spot. Nestled in the middle of a cool native forest, Ashley is great for picnics, swimming, bush walks and relaxing. The Ashley River is perfect for families and has swimming spots to suit any age. Drift downstream on a tyre, play in the playground, have a family game of soccer, and then fall asleep to the sound of native birds. Remember to bring your sandfly repellent though!