Heading into the great outdoors and sleeping beneath the stars is the perfect budget-friendly family holiday. Make sure your trip is memorable for all the right reasons with our top camping tips.
Tips for Selecting a Tent
• Keep in mind the size, weight and portability of your tent (ease of set up and dismantling). Remember that you have to transport your tent. You need to balance the comfort of staying in a larger tent with the convenience factor of travelling with a lighter or more compact tent.
• Think of how many people and how much gear the tent will have to accommodate.
• If you plan to store your gear in the tent, then 'double the size' is a good rule.
• Larger tents with separate areas are great for families. Otherwise, if your children are older and independent, you could go for two or more smaller tents so that the children can sleep seperately.
• Choose a quality waterproof tent (seam sealed) with a fly that goes all the way to the ground, and an insect mesh for protection.
• Pick a sturdy tent that will withstand a heavy rainfall and wind but offers ventilation for hot days too.
• Photographs can be misleading, so aim to see the erected tent in person if possible so that you can get a true feeling for how big it is.
• Try to borrow a tent if it is your first time camping. The experience you have in setting up the tent, storing your gear and sleeping in it will go a long way in determining what your individual requirements are for a tent.
Tips for Happy Camping
• Check the facilities that the campground has to offer, especially if you're going to a remote area. For example, is there a store to buy food and supplies from? Will you need to purify drinking water? Are the sites powered or do you need to bring a gas stove?
• If you're camping over a peak summer period (December to early March) book well in advance. Freedom camping is only permitted in some parts of New Zealand so check at the local Visitor Centre first.
• Be weather wise. Choose a level campsite out of the prevailing wind. Avoid camping under large trees with a windfall risk. Be aware of low lying areas or riverbeds that might be prone to flooding. Secure your tent pegs well.
• To avoid leaking, do not touch the sides of your tent or allow your gear to lean against the tent walls. It compromises the water tight properties of the tent.
• A ground cloth placed under your tent will also keep your tent floor dry and clean.
• Properly secure all tent poles and tie downs.
• Check out any hazards in the campsite area, especially for children, such as streams, rivers and busy roads.
• If you're at a campground, find out about security and the 'quiet' hours. Be respectful of others.
• Minimise your impact on the environment
• Pack suntan lotion and insect repellent. Make sure you have warm clothing, it could be cold at night.
Camping with Children
• Make sure you have enough warm clothes. Remember, your house is most likely insulated, but tents are not. It will be a lot cooler sleeping in a tent and you want children to be warm and comfortable.
• Establish safety rules for the children and make sure they understand them. For example, preschool children might be told to remain within an agreed boundary. Adults should always accompany young children to swimming pools.
• Take along toys, board games or cards. Think of activities to entertain the kids if the weather turns for the worst.
• Take a torch for each child. Not only are they practical light sources but they also provide good entertainment value in the dark.
• Bring plenty of snacks and drinks.
• Take suntan lotion and hats to keep your children protected from the sun.
• Make sure your children have paper and books to draw on and record their experiences.