Warm weather, plenty of sunshine, and gorgeous beaches make the Nelson/Tasman and Marlborough areas a top pick for kiwi camping. 

From tranquil riverside spots to action-packed camping grounds, this area has everything! 


Here are some of our favourites from the Top of the South: Best Family Camping Spots 

Picton Top 10 is excellent and has lovely sheltered tent sites. You also get access to a solar-heated swimming pool, paddling pool, bike and go-cart hire, and a good playground for little kids. There is a fun walk across the Coat Hanger Bridge to town where you can look at the boats and in the water or for fish. Picton’s Waterside Playground is a beautiful spot to spend the day and has plenty for the kids to enjoy, including a pirate-ship paddling pool! 


Any DOC Campsites in the Marlborough Sounds are great and often, if you go out far enough,  you can have the place all to yourselves–one of the bays in Kenepuru Sounds for example. Most DOC camps can be found on their website, where you will find all the info you need: access to water and toilets, prices etc. DOC sites are very cheap, ranging from around $4 to $23 per person per night (free for preschoolers). 

The Pelorus Bridge Campground between Nelson and Blenheim is an excellent cool spot for a hot summer’s day (but don’t forget your sandfly repellent!). Set in beautiful surroundings alongside the Pelorus River, nestled amongst native trees, there are plenty of walks that the family will enjoy. At this camping spot, there’s plenty to keep the kids occupied: kayak, fish, walk the swing bridge, and cool off in the awesome swimming holes. 

Abel Tasman

The ultimate camp for kids of all ages is Quinney’s Bush in Tapawera by Nelson. It has everything a kid could want when camping–Eel feeding, a swimming hole with a raft and river slide, trailer rides, motorbike tracks, playgrounds, swings, obstacle courses, a farmyard, and more! There’s a great onsite shop for marshmallows etc. to cook on your campfire. In peak season, they also run organised activities each day and open up the big water slide and flying foxes. 

Totaranui Campground in Abel Tasman is a breathtaking spot, but also a very busy one, as is  Motueka and other Nelson/Tasman spots. It pays to book early for these areas, as they are popular with both tourists and locals. Totaranui is at the northern end of the Abel Tasman National Park where you can find some of New Zealand’s most beautiful golden beaches and clear flat seas.

Many people walk the Abel Tasman track so it’s a popular area but definitely worth the visit! If you want to have a bit more of an adventure you can even kayak, hike, or catch a jet boat into one of the bays along the track. The track is very accessible and easy enough for families. Some of the prettiest spots are Anchorage and Onetahuti, but the whole area is stunning! 


Enjoyed reading the Top of the South: Best Family Camping Spots? Want camping ideas in Canterbury? Check out our blog for more ideas and our favourite spots!