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  1. #1
    Senior Member hutzelbein's Avatar
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    Camp sites in New Zealand & hammocks

    I thought I would share my experiences with hammocking in New Zealand, since I'm always happy to read stuff like this prior to travelling.

    I spent 6 months in New Zealand recently, travelling first by car and then by bicycle. Due to a postal foul-up, I only had my hammock for the last 3,5 months while travelling on North Island. I stayed strictly on designated camp sites; I never stealthed, although I kept this as an option.

    Generally the camp sites in New Zealand were A+. I've never seen more luxurious camp sites anywhere, and I'm afraid I never will. All camp sites had cooking facilities, most had community areas like a place to eat or watch TV. Sometimes there were even games rooms. Everything (including toilets and showers) was usually spotlessly clean. My guess is, that I stayed in 50+ camp sites, and there were only 2 or 3 that were dirty (well, for New Zealand standards). Camp site owners were usually extremely friendly and willing to find me a spot where I could hang my hammock.

    I could only use my hammock for around 2 weeks on South Island. During these, I usually had a spot to hang in 1 out of 2 campsites.

    On North Island the ratio was better - maybe 3 out of 4. However, if you are planning to do something similar, my advice would be: bring a suspension that is very flexible. Most times, I had to use trees that were VERY far apart (9-12 "steps" - so maybe ~10m). A couple of times the distance was just about enough to hang the hammock. After these experiences, I converted back to webbing, as I couldn't go short enough with whoopies.

    I did most of my hanging in the off-season, which means that campsites pretty empty, and I had a good choice of sites. Most of the time, there were only one or two sites per camp site, which would allow hanging. Had I been hammocking in the high season, I would probably have had to arrive early to get a hammocking spot. And I probably would have had to use my tent more often.

    Stealthing would have been possible, but often illegal.

    On the hikes I did (Fiordlands, Queen Charlotte Track, Abel Tasman, Wanganui River), hanging would not always have been possible, and the DOC people could never tell me beforehand what the "tree situation" was around the designated camp sites.

    All in all, I would probably recommend to take a tent in addition to the hammock. Or risk staying in hostels/hotels now and then.

    Hope this is helpful.

  2. #2
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    Just to add on to Hutzelbein...I am from New Zealand and have had a lot experience in the back country and 'off the beaten track' with camping. Sure there are many tidy places to stay and DoC (Department of Conservation) has plenty of information about their hundreds of campsite throughout New Zealand. Many of the backcountry campsites; which has running water, a toilet, 99% of the time suitable trees and around $6 per night, so pretty cheap. However, freedom camping is not recommend here as even though it's great to go somewhere free, it's the human waste is what gets left behind and it spoils our many beautiful spots. Saying that,and I don't want to be the person who endorses free camping (even though I have done it many of times) as long as you gather up everything or go into areas to do you wees and poos that people won't go or smell it, you won't harm anything. Hammock camping has one of many benefits, and in NZ DoC doesn't like ground dwellers because of the ecological 'damage' by flattening the flora and fauna. Hammocks don't touch the ground so their is no worries there. Even DoC rangers here have been purchasing hammocks because of the ecological benefits but also they like the convenience and versitility we all experience. So in general with 'free' camping, be respectful and leave it as you found it.

    Another option is that generally (and I don't want to be a spokes person to every New Zealander here but it is a common amongst many people) that we are an easy going, help out anyone who is need kind of country. So if you get stuck and you need trees to hang, pop into a farm and ask them if they have a wooded area which you could use (they probably let you stay in their house and stay for dinner!) . Forestry plantations are numerious throughout New Zealand, so if you ask the local farmer or if you arrive during the dark, pack up before dawn and leave only foot prints. Like any country, people are generally all the same so if you're polite and curtious to people who you want help from, they would be more willing to help.

    I've recently learnt that sometimes money limits our ability to be creative, so find a great place to stay, that's cheap and it means you can spend longer taking in the beautiful scenes and atmosphere our country (and I know your country will be the same) has to offer!

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