Archives For Camping

Easter weekend saw DOC ranger, Nina Mercer, head off with her family to Holdsworth Campsite, in the foothills of Tararua Forest Park.

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Taking the family away on holiday can be expensive. Elizabeth shares her budget friendly ‘miracle’ find in Rotorua.

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Nina Mercer and her family spent the summer holidays visiting two very different campsites, Mangawhero campsite on the southern side of Mount Ruapehu and Anaura Bay campsite on the East Coast.

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By DOC Ranger, Kurt Shanks

Today, we’re putting the spotlight on recent innovative activity on Motuihe Island — a conservation jewel in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf Marine Park.

Ranger John Mills plays a vital role in everything from glamping to gecko translocations and sponsored road repairs.

Donation benefits conservation

A $2,000 donation of roading materials and labour from Fulton Hogan provided an unexpected boost to conservation efforts on Motuihe.

Paul Hart (left) from Fulton Hogan and DOC’s Motuihe  Ranger John Mills, on the road before repairs were  carried out.

Paul Hart (left) from Fulton Hogan and DOC’s Motuihe
Ranger John Mills, on the road before repairs were
carried out

A donated truck load of black top roading mix has enabled DOC to make the necessary repairs to the deteriorating road surface, with spin-off conservation benefits.

DOC Ranger on the island, John Mills, says the donated materials and labour allow DOC and its partner—the Motuihe Island Restoration Trust—to divert more budget and effort to projects with direct conservation benefits.

The island is pest free, with continued effort by DOC and the Trust to protect endangered native species like the New Zealand dotterelsaddlebackkākārikikiwishore skinksbellbirds and tuatara.

Crossing the ditch for Motuihe glamping

John Mills says there is also increasing interest from the corporate sector to visit the island for retreats, conservation education and team building.

    The lounge retreat, part of the glamping site on Motuihe Island

The lounge retreat, part of the glamping site on Motuihe Island

In early November the island hosted 60 high-achievers from Fuji Xerox Australia for an overnight ‘glamping’ experience.

The overnighter was organised by who booked out camp sites on the island and ensured guests’ meals were fully catered by chefs.

The spectacular glamping site on Motuihe Island.

The spectacular glamping site on Motuihe Island

The Fuji Xerox staff helped DOC and the Trust by carrying out a variety of conservation-orientated volunteer work, and the island was returned to its original condition immediately prior to the guests’ departure, with all rubbish and temporary facilities removed by barge.

Trifecta of gecko translocations—two down, one to go!

Three species of gecko are being translocated to Motuihe over the summer months to help restore ecological links and values to the island.

Releasing geckos

Releasing geckos

The gecko programme is part of the island’s restoration plan jointly developed by DOC and the Trust, and follows several translocations of rare birds and tuatara.

Geckos were present on the island prior to farming and the arrival of pest animals.

Late last year, 60 common geckos arrived from Otata Island (Noises) to Motuihe on a day which attracted more than 100 volunteers and conservationists, including iwi, the Trust, DOC and community groups.

60 common geckos arrived from Otata Island, which attracted more than 100 volunteers and conservationists

60 common geckos arrived from Otata Island, which attracted more than 100 volunteers and conservationists

In January 100 Duvaucel’s geckos arrived from Stanley Island (in the Mercury Islands), and in early March 100 Pacific geckos will be translocated from Tarakihi (Shag Island).

Visit Motuihe

With clear waters, sheltered anchorages, visitor facilities and community conservation efforts, the island is particularly popular with summer visitors.

You can plan your own visit to Motuihe on the DOC website.

By Daniel Deans, Department of Conservation Intern

This year, for the New Year’s break, my friend and I decided that we’d had enough of big cities, flashing lights and inebriated masses, and that what we were really craving was some space, fresh air, and waking up to the unmistakable smell of a tent.

A blue tent at 12 Mile Delta campsite.

Waking up to the unmistakable smell of a tent

So camping, we decided, would be the plan of attack this New Year.

We grabbed two more friends and scoured the DOC website for a suitable campsite, and settled on 12 Mile Delta, around 20 minutes from Queenstown.

While the campsite itself isn’t exactly the lap of luxury, the lakeside beaches and the stunning views of the Remarkables certainly made it well worth the $6 a night.

Sitting by the lake.

Relaxing by the lake

We spent four days camped by the bush, being woken by the ‘whoosh-whoosh’ of kereru flapping overhead. When the sun took the courtesy to appear, we took several dips in the rather icy Lake Wakatipu, including a swim at the idyllic, azure blue Bob’s Cove.

Amazing mountain views from 12 Mile Delta campsite.

Out in the fresh air

A good walk from the campsite took us to Lake Dispute, nestled in a valley between some rugged looking mountains.

When the rain did arrive (which was unfortunately rather frequently), we retreated to the tent and busted out the Monopoly (in which I discovered, rather too late, that everyone else had been cheating, and I’m still bitter). The rest of the time was spent lying on the lakeside with a good book and a glass of wine, or strumming away on the guitar.

Beautiful blue lake and mountain views.


The highlight of the trip was undoubtedly New Year’s Eve. Rather than face the chaotic madness of Queenstown itself, we took our sleeping bags down to the lake front to stare at the stars and listen to the lapping of the lake. When it hit midnight, we could see the flashes of light in the distance as the Queenstown fireworks went off, and heard the occasional thundering boom. All in all, it was exactly the kind of New Year’s break we were looking for!

Jumping into Lake Wakatipu.

Taking a dip

I have never been much of an outdoorsy person — I usually prefer to spend my holidays in the city or on a beach, close to mod cons and most importantly, hot running water. This summer, however, I decided to do something a bit different and disconnect from the world and spend a week on Arapawa Island in the Marlborough Sounds.

Islands in the Marlborough Sounds.

Escaping to the Marlborough Sounds for a week

A week of camping, swimming, fishing and exploring might sound like bliss to some, but the thought of having no mobile reception, internet, or power, had me worried. Luckily I was not alone — 15 of us had made the trip down from Wellington, all filled with a similar sense of trepidation, but a keenness to have fun.

A bay on Arapawa Island bathed in sunlight.

Picturesque bay on Arapawa Island

First stop was the supermarket in Picton to pick up supplies, and then off to catch the water taxi. We had obviously ordered too much food and the boat captain probably wasn’t too impressed when we rocked up with box after box.

We were welcomed to the island on a spectacular day, with a single Hector’s dolphin greeting our water taxi as we passed through Queen Charlotte Sound.

A lone Hector's dolphin in the water.

A Hector’s dolphin welcoming us to Queen Charlotte Sound

On reaching the island the first issue we had to contend with was the curious group of weka who were ready to investigate our bags and belongings and anything else that caught their attention. They sure do love shiny things and we had to keep our food hidden at all times.

A tent at Wharehunga Bay campsite on Arapawa Island.

Wharehunga Bay campsite

There are two DOC campsites on Arapawa, which are situated on either side of the island, and both are surrounded by beautiful bays and breathtaking walking tracks. Wharehunga Bay campsite is a particularly beautiful spot.

Swimming in a bay on Arapawa Island.

Swimming – a compulsory activity on the island

Swimming was a compulsory activity every single day despite some people being put off by the plethora of stingrays and jellyfish in the bay. The bay was also home to a good number of blue cod that can be caught at this time of year.

Everyday we would discover a different track on the island that would lead us to some new discovery. We managed to discover a forgotten shipwreck, remnants of a historic pa site and a freshwater stream filled with massive eels.

Stars over Arapawa Island.

The magnificent night sky

Absent of any other light pollution, the night sky was breathtaking and it was even warm enough to sleep out under the stars most nights.

On the final day, we climbed the highest peak on the island called Narawhia. It was from the peaks of Arapawa Island in 1770 that Captain James Cook first saw the sea passage now known as the Cook Strait.

The view from Narawhia, the highest peak on Arapawa Island.

The view from Narawhia, the highest peak on Arapawa Island

It was a fantastic break away from the city and the crowded beaches and I can’t wait to go back and do it again.

Last week James Jubb shared a lovely video he’d put together about a recent weekend trip his family took to Curio Bay on the Catlins Coast in Southland.

It’s two minutes of sea, sand, sunshine and happiness and well worth watching:

“Great times all on our own soil. Who needs to go overseas.” ~ James Jubb

You can sometimes see Hector’s dolphins/papakanua playing in the surf at Curio Bay during the summer and autumn.

New Zealand fur seals/kekeno and sea lions/rāpoka/whakahao also frequent the area, and lucky visitors may even see yellow-eyed pengins/hoiho (the rarest penguins in the world).