Our new resource Camping for Beginners is the first in our new Sport and Recreation series. Camping can be fun and a great way to relax. Check out our tips for beginners here; be prepared, be safe, and have a great time.

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Picking the right place to camp means thinking about location, how full a campground is likely to be on the day you arrive, the weather at that time of the year and what your gear can stand up to, and what your safety and accessibility needs are.

Think about proximity to bathrooms, cellphone coverage, drinking water.

Do you need a permit to camp there? Can you light a fire? You can find information from Department of Conservation, district councils, motor home associations, and social media groups for camping in Aotearoa.

Practice at Home

Practice setting up your tent at home or in a park nearby. Make sure you have all the pieces, it’s waterproof (including the groundsheet or floor), and everything works. If you’re bringing a cooker or other essential equipment – old or new – practice and test before you need it.

Pitching a Tent

Pitch your tent (or park) on level ground. Think about trees in the wind and falling branches or pine cones. If there could be a sudden downpour, will you be flooded out? In flooding, high winds, or other emergencies, how quickly can you pack up and leave?

Just Trans Stuff

For some of us, things like shaving, using bathrooms, and taking a shower can be extra difficult we’re sharing facilities with strangers. It may be an option to take a shower-tent and solar shower into your site, set up a table with a shaving mirror, and use ropes and flags as privacy screens. Having a bathroom area away from your social area and out of view from other campers can make camping a lot less stressful.

Plan to Eat

Cooking on a campfire requires dry wood, and using a camp cooker means taking a cooker and fuel with you. You’ll need a pot or pan, dishes, cutlery, and food that can be prepared easily with whatever equipment you have.

If you’re on foot, consider the weight of your food. If you can park a car near your campsite, then pre-prepared foods such as canned soup may be an option. Consider snacks, hot and cold drinks. Remember that some foods perish quickly without a chilly bin or ice box. Keep an eye on expiry dates. Ziplock bags keep chilled foods from contaminating each other.

Be Responsible

If you’re camping near others, try to give them some space, and keep the noise down at night. Remember to respect Papatūānuku as well – take only photos and leave only footprints. If you have animal companions with you, this applies to them as well.

Commonly Forgotten Items

Commonly forgotten items include insect repellent, sunscreen, a water bottle, a first aid kit, toiletries, a mirror, and lighting – a mix of solar and battery powered lights should see you through. You may like to take a comfortable chair, and eat at a folding table. Games, books, puzzles, and activities can also be a good idea.

Camping Checklist

Personal items

Comfy clothes, swimwear, dress ups.
Safer sex supplies if needed.
Bed roll/ airbed/ mattress/stretcher.
Blankets, sheets/sleeping bag.
Ear plugs.
Torch + battery, or cellphone + car charger.
Vape charger.
Power Bank/spare battery.
Hormones or medications.
Cupboard/food crate.
Chilly bin.
Personal kitchenware – plate/bowl/utensils.


Water or large water container.
Bug spray.
Sunscreen SPF 50+.
First aid kit.
Gas bottles for cooking.
Ice X 1 million.
Kitchen wipes.
Toiletries eg soap, sanitary products, wet wipes, extra T-paper.

Kitchen and Living

Kitchen /lounge gazebo.
Kitchen bench.
Kitchen table.
Solar candles/ lighting/safe fire torches.
Clock (no cellphone reception).
Flags/privacy screen fabric.
Falas/floor mats.
Gas bottles or cans.
Dishwashing tub, dishwash liquid, Scrubber, Buckets, Tea towels (or wetwipes).
Pots and pans.
Chopping boards and sharp knives.
Mixing/salad bowls.
Coffee plunger.
Can opener.
Music speakers.
Beanbags or camp chairs.
Solar shower.

Foods that Last

Breakfast foods – cereal, small cartons of long-life or plant-based milks, milk powder, porridge, oatmeal, muesli, firm fruits, canned spagetti and baked beans.

Lunch foods – many types of crackers, small cans of fish, canned pre-cooked chicken or red meat, pre-packed tortillas, margarine and spreads, whole (rather than loose leaf) salad greens, cabbage, carrots, preserved meats such as salami, fresh eggs last over a month.

Dinner foods – dried pasta, rice, corn chips, fresh or dried-flake potatoes, dried peas, bottled or canned pasta sauce, dried mushrooms, herbs and spices, salt, cooking oil, pouches of sauce, soup grain mix, pre-made meals in cans or pouches (eg, pouches of curry or fried rice, canned soups).

Snacks – dried seaweed snacks, potato chips, muesli bars, small cartons of milk or plant-milk based protein drinks, dried fruit and nuts, pretzels, biscuits, confectionery.

Drinks – coffee, tea, herb tea, hot chocolate, powdered juice (eg. Raro), syrups and concentrates, drinking water and bottle.

Vinegar Hill Gay Camp

Many transgender and rainbow folks camp at Vinegar Hill near Hunterville every December over the summer holidays. Vinegar Hill Gay Camp is not a commercial event, it’s just a gathering of rainbow folks. Besides camp fees and a $10 contribution towards community events and stage hire for the New Years eve party, it’s free to attend. Find out more here.