8 of the Most Scenic South Island Campgrounds


The South Island of New Zealand is a playground for nature and adventure lovers. Road trip routes wind through the most impeccable natural wonders like limestone cliffs, bright blue lakes and pristine beaches. A campervan or caravan is a crowd favourite mode of travel for a South Island adventure, and these South Island campgrounds take any holiday to the next level. Hire a camper from Camplify and explore this beautiful part of the world. Some campgrounds offer power and facilities, while others are Department of Conservation (DOC) sites that encourage you to go back to basics. Camplify has a wide range of campers available for hire, so you can tailor your trip to suit you perfectly. Motorhome-friendly and out-of-this-world picturesque; these are some of the most scenic South Island campgrounds.

1. Moke Lake, Queenstown

Enjoy your time off the beaten track at the Moke Lake Campsite. Moke Lake is just 20 minutes out of bustling Queenstown, but you’ll feel like you’ve ventured to a remote backcountry setting. Ben Lomond and Mount Creighton tower over the area nearby and the Moonlight Track to the historic Moonlight goldfields starts here. Tussocks and grasslands cover the terrain. You can hear yourself think out here. Drive your camper to the campsite at the edge of Moke Lake and take in the scenery at this remarkable South Island campground. A grassy or gravel patch will become your home in the mountains. Facilities here include toilets and a shelter for cooking. Though a relaxing setting, there’s plenty to do in the area. The Moke Lake Loop track is a popular walk. Meander around the 6km loop and enjoy mountain and lake views. Be sure to check with your van owner before heading out on this gravel road.

2. Lakes Edge Holiday Park, Tekapo

If you’re searching for the most picturesque South Island campground, Lakes Edge Holiday Park in Tekapo will not disappoint. The motorhome sites here are perched on the hill overlooking Lake Tekapo and many mountain peaks in the Two Thumb Range. It’s the bright, milky blue water of Lake Tekapo that really takes your breath away. Finding the best views to enjoy from the comfort of your camper can be the best way to spend your days. This South Island campground is in the heart of the Mackenzie Country, with endless spectacular things to see and do. Navigate the skies with a scenic flight, or focus on the waters and check out a high country salmon farm.

This Tekapo campground is the perfect spot on a road trip from Christchurch to Queenstown. Check out campers for hire in the mighty Christchurch area on Camplify here.

3. Gillespies Beach, West Coast

This is the South Island campground that offers a remote, tucked away no-frills camping spot that’s on the edge of spectacular scenery. Gillespies Beach campsite is at the end of a narrow gravel road, right on the edge of the pathway to the beach. Snow-capped mountains are your backdrop, and remnants of the old mining settlement that once stood here are scattered nearby. The quintessential West Coast beach is rocky, with some of the best sunsets you’ll ever see. Walks to the Gillespies Lagoon and beyond fill up your days.

Explore your options with Camplify. Opt for a van with merely the simple things, or be the envy of fellow campers with a luxury motorhome. Access to luxuries like power (from the battery), a full bathroom and a kitchen can only be achieved with the right motorhome at Gillespies Beach. The campsite facilities include toilets and a cooking shelter – nothing fancy. Whether you’re living simply or enjoying home comforts, a night or two at this South Island campground will offer lasting great memories. Plus, Gillespies Beach is on the magnificent West Coast and a South Island road trip is made that much better with time spent here.

4. Purakanui Bay Campsite, Catlins

The Catlins is a coastal area at the bottom of the South Island. This southeastern corner of New Zealand is a rugged and unique patch of countryside. The Purakanui Bay Campsite is the ideal base to explore the Catlins from, with its uninterrupted coast views. Journey to waterfalls, check out the surf beaches and spot native wildlife before returning to your pad on the beachfront at this South Island campground. A fire pit and toilets are the extent of the facilities here, but you’ll find you don’t need much to wind down and enjoy the dramatic views.

5. Milford Sound Campervan Park

When you’re searching for the most scenic South Island campground, look no further than the campervan park at Milford Sound Lodge. Stay behind when everyone goes home at one of these motorhome sites, in the heart of Piopiotahi / Milford Sound. These powered sites are surrounded by Fiordland rainforest and clear night skies. Wander to a viewpoint of Mitre Peak at sunset, and enjoy the rush of the river below the lodge grounds. There’s limited capacity at this Milford Sound campervan park, and it’s not suitable for caravans. Book ahead to avoid missing out, and consider adding dinner at the Pio Pio restaurant to your plans.

6. Punakaiki Beach Camp, Punakaiki

This campground has the most impressive backdrop of towering limestone cliffs. The hazy sunlight drifts off the beach and makes for the most stunning sunsets. Punakaiki Beach Camp on the West Coast is a top South Island campground to take your road trip adventure to the next level. Stay near attractions like the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks, the Paparoa Track and the Punakaiki Cavern. There’s plenty to see and do in this West Coast hub. Punakaiki Beach Camp has both powered and non-powered campsites, plus kitchen facilities, hot showers and dump stations – everything you need on a campervan trip!

7. Driftaway Queenstown

Queenstown’s newest holiday park boasts one of the best views to be enjoyed from the comfort of our Camplify hired camper. With sites overlooking Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountain peaks, Driftaway Queenstown is one of the best South Island campgrounds. Located in Frankton, it’s close to the airport, supermarkets, shops and restaurants. When the sun is shining, enjoy the lake and nearby walks. If the weather packs in, book a Driftaway private hot tub session!

Are you a van owner in the South Island? Learn about the benefits of sharing your camper on Camplify here.

8. Kaiteretere Reserve Campground, Tasman

Kaiteretere Reserve Campground sits on the edge of the picturesque Kaiteretere Beach in the Tasman Region. Less than an hour’s drive from Nelson, Kaiteretere has to be one of the most stunning stretches of beach in the South Island. This campground has over 400 powered sites, making it the perfect spot to spend long summers enjoying a multigenerational family trip. Discover large campers available for hire on Camplify to complete the ultimate holiday in sunny Tasman.

Cover image credit: Punakaiki Beach Camp

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