Get DOCked up
We have several options when deciding where to park up overnight and I’ll be mentioning them all in time.
This post is going to cover just one….
Department of Conservation (DOC) campsites.
For a small fee, or even no fee, there are beautifully located campsites provided across New Zealand at gorgeous locations where you can really get back to nature.
At times you can get REALLY back to nature.
A lot of the sites are very basic with little or no facilities.
For self-contained campervans (such as the KiwiBlogBus) with their own toilet and washing facilities – it’s not an issue anyway.
If you are used to campsites with free WiFi, laundry rooms and bouncing pillows then you could be a little disappointed.
DOC categorise their sites with a range that goes from:
Basic – with very limited facilities, maybe long-drop toilets and water from a stream or lake
Serviced Campsites – wide range of facilities and services including flush toilets, tap water, cooking facilities and hot showers
According to the DOC website; serviced campsites should be pre-booked and you pay the warden when you arrive, while the other camps run on a self-register basis and you can leave your fee in an envelope on-site.
To date we have either stayed at basic or standard sites and quite often had no fee to pay but at the most have paid no more than $16 for one night.
DOC campsites are quite often in remote places such as forests, scenic reserves, by lakes or rivers.
They give you the opportunity to stay somewhere unique, where you can hear amazing native birdsong and see close up the untouched beauty of New Zealand.
Many that we have been to have had barbeque/firepits and we’ve been able to partake in a bit of old-fashioned roasting marshmallows over the campfire in the evenings.
This January we stopped for one night at the Manganuku DOC site as we travelled back from Gisborne through the Waioeka Gorge. We camped up by a river and soon had a fire going in the pit provided. The weather closed in and we watched the clouds roll over the bush-covered hills that surrounded us. The drizzle was not enough to frighten our mammoth fire and marshmallows could still be toasted from underneath an umbrella. As bedtime came and went for the younger Kiwi Annisons, the grown-ups got to enjoy the fire a little longer with an alcoholic beverage or two for added relaxation. As I later retired into the depths of my duvet I peeped out of the bus window to check the dying embers of the fire and was greeted by the sight of hundreds of glow-worms on the other side of the riverbank.
Not quite “Ten million fireflies” but good enough for me.
Manganuku campsite, Waioeka Gorge
Camped near a historic truss bridge on the old gorge road
View from the Lake Tarawera Outlet campsite
Mt. Tarawera from the DOC site
The Tarawera river runs alongside the campground