The best spots to go camping with kids around Canterbury


Cantabrians are spoiled for choice when it comes to camping with kids, with great options as close as a 30-minute drive from Christchurch.

Campsites in Banks Peninsula, North Canterbury or further afield near Geraldine have long sandy beaches, rivers, playgrounds or farm animals.

Children will be so busy roaming around the grounds their parents might not even see much of them during their stay. Here is Stuff’s list of little people pleasers.

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Geraldine Farmyard Holiday Park

Barnardos Kids Start play group had their annual end of year outing at the farmyard holiday park near Geraldine in 2013. Pictured is 2-year-old Katie Lyne with one of the rabbits

John Bisset

Barnardos Kids Start play group had their annual end of year outing at the farmyard holiday park near Geraldine in 2013. Pictured is 2-year-old Katie Lyne with one of the rabbits

This is kids’ heaven. Free donkey rides. A pen to freely pet hamsters and rabbits. Animals everywhere, including alpacas, llamas, goats, kune kune pigs, peacocks and more. A huge playground with a life-size car, boat and game of snakes and ladders. A yellow submarine and a crashed space rocket. A swimming pool. A marshmallow pit. A wishing chair. A cockatiel that says “hello” when you walk past. A little store stacked with lollies priced from 10 cents. A big trampoline.

Really, kids under 12 will adore this place, and you can bring your pets too. It’s not so bad for parents either.

If you hate camping, you can book a cabin with a real bed. The kitchen has everything you need even crockery and cutlery. The whole place is incredibly clean and well-maintained considering the presence of farm animals and excited children.

Cost: $35 for tent per night + $10 per adult and child aged over two. Standard cabin from $80 a night.

Ashley Gorge Holiday Park

The Ashley Gorge river is a popular spot on a hot day.

Don Scott/Stuff

The Ashley Gorge river is a popular spot on a hot day.

Native bush, birds and woodland surround this beautiful campsite, just 45 minutes out of Christchurch, and 8 kilometres from Oxford.

The Ashley Gorge river running alongside the campground is a must on a hot day. The sandflies, not so much so make sure you bring bug spray. Facilities are clean and practical. Kids can safely roam or bike around the campsite and its playground.

The site has tent and caravan spots as well as cabins and a small pod with beds and linen. Pets welcome.

Cost: $19 per adult + $9 per child per night for tent sites.

Little River Campground

Little River Campground in the Banks Peninsula has a 70-metre water slide set up on the side of a hill.

David Walker/Stuff

Little River Campground in the Banks Peninsula has a 70-metre water slide set up on the side of a hill.

Only about 30 minutes from Christchurch, this small, family-friendly campground is a great spot to head to straight after work on a Friday. Find a spot under the trees by the stream and relax while the kids play.

It can get a bit cramped during the summer holidays with not much space between tents. Cars have to be left outside the site, so you will need to carry everything to your tent.

The main attraction is the Okuti River, which is great for older kids but not so good for infants and small children, whose parents will need to keep a close eye on them.

The office at Little River campsite.

Iain McGregor/Stuff

The office at Little River campsite.

If sleeping in a tent, campervan, caravan or hammock is not your cup of tea, there are small cottages ranging from $90 to $150 per night. The playground is basic, with a ground-level trampoline. This is Banks Peninsula’s only dog-friendly campground.

Formerly known as Birdlands Sanctuary, the area is home to Tui, Koromiko, Piwakawaka, Kereru, Ruru and protected tuna in the Okuti River.

Cost: $20 per adult, $10 per kids 3-14, $5 per infants under 3. Babies under 1 free + $5 for power. Kids fee often includes either slippery slides and/or a campfire, over busy times (not guaranteed).

Woodend Beach Holiday Park

Woodend Beach Holiday Park attracts families back year after year.

David Walker/Stuff

Woodend Beach Holiday Park attracts families back year after year.

This holiday park is only about 30 minutes from Christchurch, but you will feel on holiday straight away.

Set in 22 hectares of park-like grounds, surrounded by forest and a 2-minute walk to the beach, the site is a great spot for families (but pets will have to stay home). Facilities are modern and clean. There’s a decent playground and some exotic parrots to keep the kids entertained. Tent sites and cabins available.

Woodend Beach is stunning on a good day and atmospheric on a stormy day.

supplied

Woodend Beach is stunning on a good day and atmospheric on a stormy day.

Cost: $18 per adult and $10 per child aged over two per night for unpowered sites. Standard cabins from $70 a night.

Waikuku Beach Holiday Park

Brianna Armon, 6, enjoys riding round the grounds at Waikuku Beach Holiday Park in 2011.

KIRK HARGREAVES/Stuff

Brianna Armon, 6, enjoys riding round the grounds at Waikuku Beach Holiday Park in 2011.

About 30 minutes from Christchurch Airport, the large grassed site is close to a safe swimming and surf beach (with surf lifesavers in summer). A forest belt with fun trails where the kids can build forts separates the beach from the campground.

There is plenty to do for the kids to do with a playground on site and a flying fox, tennis court, basketball half court and skateboard area in the domain next door. A public playground and paddling pool are close by as well.

Cost: $18 per adult and $10 per child aged over two per night for unpowered sites. Standard cabins from $70 a night.

Okains Bay Camping Ground

Okains Bay Camping Ground is just behind a wide sandy beach.

Supplied

Okains Bay Camping Ground is just behind a wide sandy beach.

This campsite ticks all the boxes. Ninety minutes from Christchurch, it is located behind the tall pine trees bordering Okains Bay beach and estuary. Both are safe for swimming and water sports. Kids can safely roam around the campsite, which has shade, a playground with two flying foxes, a climbing frame, swings and slide. The toilet and kitchen facilities are clean and functional. Bikes are a must – there is even a mountain biking loop around the forest accessible for all ages. There is no cell phone reception and only one café near the campsite, so it’s a great place to disconnect and focus on having fun with the kids.

The only thing Stuff did not like when visiting this campsite was the coin-operated showers – make sure you bring $2 coins.

Covid vaccine pass required for all guests and visitors over the age of 12 in orange or red Covid levels from December 10, 2021. Dogs are not allowed.

Cost: $14 nightly per tent + $14 per adult and $7 per child aged over two.

Orton Bradley Park campsite

Jack Andrews, 7, of Christchurch, on the wire traverse in the new adventure playground at Orton Bradley Park, Charteris Bay.

John Kirk-Anderson/Stuff

Jack Andrews, 7, of Christchurch, on the wire traverse in the new adventure playground at Orton Bradley Park, Charteris Bay.

The campsite is in a large park, which has an adventure playground, a shallow stream where children can play safely, large grassy areas and native forest.

Tent sites are only available from December 26 to February 6 each summer. Dogs are not allowed in the park. Powered sites for campervans and caravans are available year round with toilet facilities and shower cubicles suitable for solar showers.

Cost: Tent sites are $30 per night. Powered sites are from $36 per night.



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