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Camping in New Zealand

Camping plays a major role in our exploration of New Zealand but that was not always the case. We realised a few years ago that it was only possible to stay in much of the most magnificent scenery if one had a a tent or campervan. It was Pauline who purchased a tent in the UK which we brought over which surprised Pete as she had never slept under canvas. Pete had done some camping many years ago but tents and camping have changed a lot - no more ridge tents with poles at either end. Our tent is a lightweight Dome tent just over 2 meters square which is supported by a cross of fibre-glass poles which are assembled, inserted and tensioned into half circles; a third pole supports a "porch" for storage. An inner is then hung on rubber cords with a few centimeters clearance within the main tent. The inner has a built in groundsheet which comes up about ten centimeters and has zipped doors which are double with an inner of mosquito netting which is absolutely essential. The outer is Nylon which is Aluminised on the inside for thermal reasons and can be put up and secured at the four corners in a few minutes to give shelter and the full hanging of the cotton/groundsheet inner, porch and adding all the guy ropes takes the assembly up to 10/15 minutes. The total weight is 5.4Kg so it can be carried on an aircraft. There are many manufacturers of such tents in various sizes - ours came in a sale from Millets reduced from £89.99 to £49.99.

The materials used for most modern tents like ours are basically waterproof without proofing which causes the only problem in that they suffer condensation on the inside of the flysheet which takes time to dry in the morning before taking down if one wants to put it away in its waterproof bag. You also see the other end of camping on many camp sites with large multi-room frame tents which stay put for many days but they are much less practical for touring. We had not even tried to assemble the tent before leaving the UK as NZ are very worried about any soil etc. entering the country and adding even more unintended wildlife imports.

What did we end up carrying for camping:

During First Year

No Item Cost
1 Tent $125 but allow $225 in NZ
2 Foam rolls $10 (ex UK)
3 Water containers Free 3l Orange Juice
1 Torch - (ex UK)
  Sand fly repellent $9.70 Repel stick
  Anti -histamine Tablets $8.20 Polarmine - for Sand Flies
  Fly Spray $7.00  
1 Stove $44 Single Burner
2 Gas cylinders $14.5 450gm Primus
  Matches - free from restaurants etc
2 Swiss Army Pen Knifes $90 inc Bottle and Tin Opener (ex UK)
  Loo roll - buy or from motels
  Soap - free from motels
1 Washing up liquid - Supplied in Motels
Set Lightweight folding Saucepan set $15 bargain - allow $50
2 Sleeping bags $55 Farmers
2 Lightweight low chairs $29.99 Doyles
1 Coffee filter - (ex UK)
2 Insulated mugs - (ex UK)
2 Steak Knives and forks plus spoons - (ex UK)
2 Picnic Plates - Oval Melamine ex UK
1 Double Sheet and two pillowcases - (for cabins) ex UK
2 Wine Glasses - (free with petrol)
Lots Sealable containers - 500 and 1000 ml (ex yogurt)
1 Cool bag - (ex UK)
1 Folding shovel $25 (not essential) ex UK
1 Tongs $2.95 for Barbeque and fires - Farmers
1 Tea Towel $1.25 (or fancy one to iron and use as present on return)
2 Wooden Spatulas $1.50  
2 Camping Matresses $37.25 from Para Rubber
2 Pillows $6.95 from Para Rubber
2 Straps $3 to hold things together
1 Fluorescent light $24.95 from Dick Smith
2 Sets of Nicads $20 for GPS and Torch (ex UK)
1 Charger $34.95 for Nicads
1 Vitamin B1 tablets $8.80 Supposed to repel sandflies
1 Golfing Umbrella $9.95  
Pack Black Bin Liners $1.50 (for wet tents)
1 Aluminium Foil $2.25 for cooking
(bring from UK as very thin in NZ!)
1 Line for washing etc - (Salvaged)
1 Bag of Cloths pegs $1.25  
1 Wine cooling jacket - by Vacuvin (gift)
1 Vacuvin pump - for wine (ex UK)
1 Water Proofer $6.95 for tent seams (not yet used)
2 Towels - large - (ex UK)
1 J Cloth - Avis provide with each car!
1 Washing Powder -  

Added Second year

2 Expanded Polystyrene Cold Boxes free preloved
  Salt and Pepper Grinders - (spares from UK)
1 Extra Ground Sheet $30 12x8 foot
1 Bucket $2.50 Warehouse
19 More robust tent pegs $0.75  
2 Polycarbonate tumblers $20 from UK
1 Thermos type cafetier $60 from UK

Third year

1 Small Expanded Polystyrene Cold Boxes $10.00 Tomlinson (replaced annually)
1 Large Expanded Polystyrene Cold Boxes $6.95 Payless Plastics (replaced annually)
1 Red Devil Barbecue ?? A much used gift
1 Barbecue Tool $17.95 Not essential, a sale bargain
1 Garlic Press $6.50 for making dips
2 Kitchen knives $3.50 to save steak knives when fishing
1 Chopping Board $10 Farmers
1 Towel - extra large $9.00 Farmers
2 Polycarbonate Glasses $8.40 Payless Plastics

Fourth and fifth year

1 Solar battery Charger - for rechargeable batteries
2 Sets Nickel Metal Hydride batteries - for GPS, torches etc
1 Thermometer - for coolbox


In addition to the items for camping we also had a GPS for Sailing which also came in very useful in the van. We attached in on the dashboards on an angled block and self adhesive velcro so it had a view out of the window. When we found anything of interest we would store a waypoint and when we came back latter they would act as reminders of good camp sites, museums, beaches etc. We have now put these together as a page of GPS waypoints (Latitude and Longitudes) of useful places in New Zealand including many of the Department Of Conservation (DOC) and other campsites we have used, downloaded directly from our GPS

We also carried a GPS 12 volt connector, several sets of Nicads and Nickel Metal Hydride rechargable batteries and a two way extension cable for a cigar lighter socket primarily for sailing.

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Content revised: 18th July, 2020