Castlepoint is a picturesque little seaside town just a couple of hours out of Wellington. There are some great coastal and forest walks, excellent surfing, and even a golf course if that’s what strikes your fancy. It’s a great weekend trip if you’re spending some time in Wellington or just want to see a little of the rugged scenery the North Island has to offer.
There is a nice camping ground there with free bathroom and kitchen facilities (hot showers cost 50c for 5 minutes). If you have a tent you can pitch it here, and they also have cabins to hire out.
Cool fact: the lighthouse is one of only two remaining old fashioned beam lighthouses left in New Zealand.
Where: Castlepoint is a three hour drive from Wellington City. It’s a pleasant scenic drive though it gets a bit windy in parts.
How: You could visit Castlepoint as a day trip but to really make the most of it I recommend staying the night (or two). You’ll need a car to get there as public transport doesn’t head out this way. You drive to Masterton and then follow the signs out to Castlepoint. The whole drive should take you about 2 ½ hours.
Make sure you bring a few extra pegs – and something warm. This is a very exposed coastline and the wind gets really strong at times. You’ll also need to bring your own food as the only restaurant is the Whakataki Beach hotel, and a little fish and chip shop cum corner store.
When: Camping in New Zealand is definitely a summertime activity – stretching into autumn and spring if you’re brave. February & March are typically the warmest and driest months so these the optimal time to go but there are often plenty of lovely days in Dec, Jan and April too.
Why: Camping in New Zealand is a little different to other parts of the world and it’s an experience worth having if you’re looking for an authentic kiwi experience.