Situated at the foothills of the Tararua Ranges, Kaitoke Regional Park is one of my favourite New Zealand campsites. Even though it is one of the largest campsites in the greater Wellington region, I have never felt crowded out here. Whether you are on a bike with a pup-tent or need a lorry to tow your trailer, there is a campsite to suit. Choose from multiple grassy areas which are separated by established trees, you just have to choose your favourite view.
We often arrive the night before a long weekend as it is an amazing place to (almost) have ourselves. Also to ensure we nab one of our favourite spots on the river bank. Sheltered by tall trees which are often dotted with a flock of Kereru ( wood pigeon), Moreporks hunt by the river at night and Pukeko wade in the river. You can build fires on the riverbank with permission from the ranger. (unless there is a Total Fire Ban in place).
This area is famous as the filming location for Rivendell in the movie, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, so you can imagine how spectacular some the scenery is. Native bush-clad hills are blanketed with centuries-old rata, rimu and beech forest, riddled with walking tracks walking suitable for all levels of fitness and some are even wheelchair accessible.
We camp here from Labour Weekend until Easter but have experienced some of the worst frosts, and horrendous wind – 142km gusts. So check the forecast or be prepared. Remember that the river levels can rise quickly if camping on the river bank.
In the two cooking shelters there gas 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.
Power points – you may be competing with kids charging phones, a multi-box can be handy
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)
No showers – 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 10 pm is prohibited.
Onsite Ranger drives around nightly to collect fees with mobile EFTPOS which is really handy.
This is a very family-friendly campsite, where dogs are also welcome.
Update – Since we published this in 2015. A new camp area with facilities has been established near the entrance. Large grassy terraces overlooking the main camp areas with great views into the Tararua Ranges.