Don’t worry my fellow New Zealand vacationers consider me your virtual pimp, here to take you on a journey to the end of this blog post.
And if you make it to the end, you will be a full-fledged holiday park whore!
OK, that may be a bit dramatic, but you get the point.
While in Bali and prior to laying foot on New Zealand we were told by many friendly New Zealand vacationers that even though New Zealand accommodations were expensive, our family would be able to find very nice and affordable accommodations in “holiday parks”.
As an American, the term “holiday park” confused me. It conjured up images of both a Thomas Kinkade painting or scenes from The Blaire Witch Project. Both, are equally frightening.
When I would ask locals for a straightforward explanation as to what a holiday park actually was, I received varied responses, or confused looks.
So What is a Holiday Park and what are they like in New Zealand?
Numerous campgrounds of very high standard are found throughout New Zealand.
The term “campground” itself is a very loose term, they can be a very basic (grass and a couple powered sites) to full-fledged resorts.
They can be privately owned or public. In New Zealand public campgrounds are called “DOC” campgrounds, which stands for Department of Conservation.
DOC campgrounds are often more basic and limited to tents or campervan sites. If a DOC site does have a cabin it is most likely in one of the designated trekking regions such as Abel Tasman National Park.
Almost all campgrounds offer full kitchen facilities, BBQ areas, TV lounges as well as washing machines and dryers.
Along with this, most parks also have indoor facilities described often as “cabins”.
Kiwi Holiday Park in Bay of Islands:
There are usually three types of cabins.
Kitchen Cabins – A cabin with a kitchen and shared bathroom.
Standard Cabins – Just beds, no bathroom and no kitchen.
Ensuite Cabins – Typically means a private bathroom and kitchen. Although not necessarily a kitchen so you are going to have to ask.
Cabins also come in different sizes.
Standard cabins often only have beds for two. If this is the case, most facilities will offer family cabins. You have to ask.
Many also have motel units which can also be called “tourist flats”
Almost all “holiday parks” or “campervan parks” will provide:
Toilet and shower complex
Dump stations for the motor homes
Internet facilities and NON COMPLIMENTARY WiFi – The WiFi will usually have a data cap which is very annoying.
Recreation and lounge areas
Playgrounds for children
Many also have
Jumping Pillows (You have to see it to believe it)
Booking online is a complete and utter waste of time in the off-season. The websites will not represent actual availability and you will be amazed by what options are available when you actually pick up the phone and call.
Kiwi Holiday Park in Ahipara:
Tenting site cost is about $10 per night.
Powered site is around $40.
Cabins vary greatly in price but are usually from $50 for a standard cabin all the way up to $95 for a full size ensuite cabin for a family.
Motel units on the campervan park are around $100 – $150 US per night.
Holiday Park Chains
From our experience there are 3 Holiday Park Chains you should know about.
Kiwi Parks: “Kiwi Holiday Parks are in prime locations and have a variety of accommodation options . Of course we’ve got great camping sites but you can also choose from basic to deluxe cabins, a range of motel options and self-contained units that can provide for the whole tribe.”
Top 10 Holiday Parks: “All TOP 10 Holiday Parks offer great accommodation options – all you have to do is choose. You can stay in wonderful motels or self-contained units in park-like surroundings. We have a range of cabins to suit every budget. Or if you just want to experience the freedom of camping and re-discover those great childhood memories in a campervan or tent – we have many superb powered and unpowered sites.”
Each of these holiday parks offers their own discount card which will give you roughly 10% off per booking.
The Kiwi card allows you to buy a short-term card at a reduced rate which will last for 3 months.
Your Top 10 card: Save 10% up to $40 per Stay at TOP 10 Parks Valid for 2 years.
The Family Holiday Park card is good for 6 months.
The top 10 card was $50 and Kiwi and Family Holiday Park cards were about $25.
You can cover this with the cost of your first booking as you can use the 10% off. So very often the card will pay for itself which means it doesn’t matter if you use it only once. Make sure to ask about this the very first time you book so you don’t miss out and then end up kicking yourself later down the road.
Top 10 Holiday Park Waitomo (Near the Glowworm Caves):
In order to stay at a Holiday Park you are often going to have to provide your own bedding unless you are staying at a tourist flat or motel unit.
The park will provide bottom sheets and pillows.
Parks will rent bedding for $7-$8 per day per person which defeats the purpose of staying at the holiday park in the fist place.
We found a very cheap way to solve the problem of bedding. We purchased all our bedding at a second-hand store. Look for Hospice and Salvation Army. These are the big chain stores. We spent about $30 on bedding to cover the entire family and lasted us for 40 days!
In a basic cabin without a kitchen, even though the kitchen is public, you will have to bring all your own kitchenware. If you book the kitchen or ensuite rooms kitchenware and cookware will be provided for you. Often you will also be provided with complimentary coffee, tea and sugar as well as an electric kettle to heat you water.
The best apps for finding holiday parks:
We have found one app on our phone to be particularly helpful and again the name is self-explanatory: