Happy campers

Whether you're roughing it or taking a trailer-load  of creature comforts, get out there and enjoy!

Issue 16Camping4Love it or hate it, camping is a Kiwi tradition that's cheap, fun and an experience for the whole family. Hardy souls still favour sleeping under the stars, cold dips and boiling the billy over an open fire. But these days camping is made a lot easier with modern gadgets, collapsible BBQs, portable showers and, the best invention yet, inflatable beds. Camping can now be done in comfort, if not style.

Top tips for young campers

  • With a very young baby, hiring a cabin at a campsite is a good idea instead of staying in a tent. You're likely to have power so you can keep an ear out on a napping child with a baby monitor. It'll also be quieter, darker and a more settled place for baby to get to sleep. As well, you're less likely to disturb other campers if baby has an unsettled night.
  • Take a big bucket with you that can double as a baby bath and tub for washing dishes. 
  • If you're camping near the beach, be sure to take a sunshade or umbrella with you when you head down for a swim.
  • A mosquito net to cover the cot is a great idea to protect baby from pesky sandfly and mosquito bites. Some portacots have a mesh cover built in (see page 88 for our review on the latest portacots).
  • On the car trip to your destination it's a good idea to pack a small chilly bin of snacks and water to keep you refreshed. Baby wipes are a must, as well as a bag for collecting rubbish.
  • A pillow or neck cushion will help make a long trip a little more comfortable for the kids. If you can, try to do most of your driving when your kids are likely to be asleep. 

Family-friendly campsites
1.   Waihi Top 10 Holiday Park, Waihi, Coromandel: It's sited on one of New Zealand's safest beaches and has full facilities including a heated swimming pool and spa, gym, sauna and under-fives' family room.

2.   Ohiwa Beach Holiday Park, Opotiki: A beautiful beach-side holiday park with a playground and jumping pillow (pictured). During the holidays there's a children's activity programme and lots of things for pre-schoolers to do.

3.   Kapowairua (Spirits Bay) campsite, Northland (DOC): This is a great place to explore New Zealand's  history and native fauna. Sited between forest and beach, this DOC campsite is not far from Cape Reinga and the area itself is steeped in Maori history. It's also an important area for endangered wildlife.

4.   Spencer Beach Holiday Park, Christchurch: This holiday park is right next to the beach and there are some great activities for kids on site. There's a BBQ area as well as an adventure playground and mini golf, all next to Bottle Lake forest. It's a great place for young kids on bikes.

5.   Goat Island Motor Camp, Auckland: A budget camping ground that's great for families. Set in 52ha of coastal land, it lies just north of Matakana. You can swim, snorkel, dive and there are stunning views and great play areas for kids (pictured below). 

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Are we there yet?
Issue 16Camping3Being stuck in a hot, clammy car for any length of time can be frustrating for everyone, so try these games with your backseat passengers. 

  • Eye Spy, or for preschoolers, tell them to keep an eye out for, in no particular order,  a horse, cow, sheep, red car (or anything else you can think of). The first to spot one wins.
  • I packed my suitcase with… Usually this game is played alphabetically but for preschoolers say anything silly or funny.  For example, "I packed my suitcase with a purple banana, a squashed spider and  a magic strawberry." The idea is to build up the list of items with each family member adding a new one, until someone makes a mistake or can't remember the full list.



How to make damper 
This is a great Kiwi favourite over the campfire at night. To make:

  • Find a long straight stick (make sure it's not from a poisonous plant), then make the dough by mixing half a cup of water or milk to two cups of self-raising flour, a tablespoon of butter, pinch of salt and a tablespoon of sugar.
  • Divide into four, roll into a 2cm-thick pattie shape and wrap around the stick or roll up in tinfoil and place in embers.
  • When it's cooked through devour with a knob of butter and jam - Yum! 



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