Kaitoke Regional Park is one of my favourite New Zealand campsites. Situated at the foothills of the Tararua Ranges only 45mins drive north of Wellington. Its steep, bush-clad hills are blanketed with centuries-old rata, rimu and beech forest. There a variety of walking tracks suitable for all levels of fitness, some even wheelchair accessible.
This is one of the largest campsites in the greater Wellington region, but I have never felt crowded out here. Spread over flat grassy areas with plenty of established trees creating separate areas, from pup-tents to lorry sized trailers there is a site to suit, you just have to choose your favourite view.
Our favourite spot is next to the Hutt River, slightly more private as only a limited number of campers can pitch up there. The river bed is also the only place you can have a fire (assuming there is no ban in place). You need to ask the Ranger for permission before starting a fire.
You cannot book ahead, so to get our favourite spot and save room for our friends we would often arrive the night before a long weekend. It is amazing having the place (almost) to ourselves – except for the native birds, such as Kereru (Wood Pigeon), Morpork (Ruru) and Pukeko.
The park was the filming location for exterior shots of Rivendell for the movie, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, so as you can imagine, some the scenery is spectacular.
There is a large shallow swimming area near the area we like to camp, great for smaller kids, or just lounging in the water under the shade of the trees. a short walk from the main campground, under the bridge is a beautiful spot for a swim.
In the two cooking shelters there BBQs, sinks, picnic tables and potable water. These areas can be booked out by private parties, so you need to plan your day if you are going to rely on them for cooking.
There are 2 toilet blocks in the main campsite, 1 on the side camping area.They are regularly cleaned. (BYO toilet paper during the busy seasons as they can run out)
Solar showers work really well and there is always the river.
Separated recycling and rubbish bins near the entrance.
The gates are closed at night and driving after 10pm is prohibited.
Onsite Ranger drives around nightly to collect fees, he now takes eftpos which is really handy.
This is a very family friendly camping ground, and even dogs are allowed.