A family glamping adventure in Taupō
An off-grid family adventure was the perfect way to celebrate a 40th birthday – surrounded by nature in a gorgeous glamping set-up, starry skies overhead. Kate van den Bergh shares her family's special holiday with us.
My husband Willem and I have so many fond memories of packing up the car with our tent and a few supplies and hitting the road for a last-minute camping holiday. We even hired a campervan once and camped our way through the South Island before we had our now two-year-old son, Leo. It was one of our best holidays. My favourite part about it was having no plans and just going wherever the wind took us. It was so romantic and adventurous!
The enjoyment of camping definitely hasn’t stopped now that we have a child, but now we need to plan (and pack a lot more things!), and the adventures we go on are a lot more child-friendly these days! Willem’s 40th birthday was coming up and I wanted to surprise him by taking him away on a mini holiday. We also wanted my sister’s family to join us, so there would be four adults and three kids under five years old.
To be honest, getting a babysitter and staying in a lovely hotel with room service, massages and sleep-ins was pretty tempting, but we were also craving a road trip and a bit of a family adventure. A glamping holiday ticked all the boxes!
Glamping, or ‘glamorous camping’, as a family can be great fun. The kids still get to enjoy staying in a tent (which we don’t have to pitch), and we get to enjoy a comfortable bed, cook food that’s not 2-minute noodles and have a decent bathroom that’s not a 50-metre walk away in the dark. It’s a great way for kids to spend time out in nature too.
We had a little bit of trouble finding a glamp site that would accept kids, which was a shame. Most of them seem to only cater to romantic weekends away for couples and specifically said that no children were allowed. I think there could be a great market out there for family glamping sites – and after the trip we just had we can guarantee you it’s a holiday you and your children won’t forget anytime soon! We finally came across Kinloch Glamping, who happily accepted kids, and we booked in for a two-night stay.
Kinloch Glamping is an 18-minute drive from Taupo centre and is owned by Doug, a local farmer, and Terri, a talented book illustrator. They have a one-year-old wee boy named Kip and live 1km down the road from the glamping site on their family-owned farm – which is a huge 500 hectares! They decided to use a small section of the farm that wasn’t particularly good for cattle to set up a glamping business, after seeing the tent for sale at Fieldays. They wanted to share the spectacular views of their farm with more than just the cows!
The tent is deceptively big. It has two bedrooms with queen mattresses at the rear, and a large lounge room/dining area with a biofuel fireplace in the middle and a day bed which opens out to sleep two more people. The beautifully constructed rustic kitchen area is made from recycled materials and is situated out on the deck, covered with a canvas roof and it has a wall to protect it from the elements. The toilet and shower block are next to the tent in a repurposed builders' shed painted ‘Doc green’ to blend in with the surroundings, with a beautiful view of the hills from the basin. There are two outdoor bathtubs alongside each other on the other side of the tent which look directly out over the valley. The views you get from the glamping site are just breathtaking! You can see Lake Taupo in the distance, cows on the hills and a winding road stretching down towards the forest. The peace and quiet is part of that charm. There’s no power at the site and everything runs off either solar power or gas.
Feeling a bit like typical Aucklanders, we packed every single blanket we owned into the car and must have looked so funny arriving wrapped up in all our layers of clothing, having been warned about the cold weather. The tent was cosy with the fireplace going and Kinloch Glamping supplied us with hot water bottles, blankets, linen and lots of fun-looking board games to play with if the weather packed in; they even had a couple of guitars to use which the kids enjoyed. The bathtubs and showers have an endless supply of hot water too.
We had charged up all our battery packs and devices and downloaded multiple episodes of Cocomelon and Baby Shark (only for emergencies). The biggest winner though was packing our portable projector for the kids to watch Netflix on before bed – projected onto the wall of the tent.
It was great seeing how the kids interacted with the site and found fun things to do. They had the best time running around and eating snacks off the adults’ cheese platters, pointing out rainbows from the deck, top and tailing together in the beds in the lounge room and pointing out the stars and moon in the evenings.
So much for the romantic bathtubs though! We popped the kids togs on and they had a warm bubble bath while us adults dipped our feet in and had more wine and nibbles watching the sun dip behind the hills.
On the first day we took a drive down to Kinloch centre to walk along the lakefront. The water was crystal clear and so beautiful! There’s a cafe down there called the Tipsy Trout which has a great reputation for its food. There’s a small playground too. The area is also very well known for its mountain bike trails and there’s even a few trails from the glamping site that are popular.
We celebrated Willem’s birthday by cooking up a big breakfast on the BBQ, pulling the beanbags out onto the deck and enjoying cupcakes with candles in them for him and the kids to blow out. We took a drive into Taupo and went to Cobb & Co for lunch, which was an unexpected win – they have a great kids' play area there and we were able to eat our lunch with the kids entertained. My sister and I hadn’t been to a Cobb & Co since the 90s and to our delight, they were still selling the old traffic light drinks we had as kids. Now they come with an adult twist – a shot of vodka! We had to have one, for nostalgia purposes of course.
Kate van den Bergh is a digital creator and tiny house enthusiast living on Waiheke Island with her husband, two-year-old son Leo, and Alba the cat. Follow more of their family adventures on Instagram, @tinyhousefamilynz.
PHOTOS: Kate van den Bergh
AS FEATURED IN ISSUE 55 OF OHbaby! MAGAZINE. CHECK OUT OTHER ARTICLES IN THIS ISSUE BELOW