Get off the grid and leave the pandemic behind on these incredible glamping getaways in northern New Zealand. Reporting by Brook Sabin.
I don’t know about you, but I found the pandemic exhausting. Add a dash of near-constant anxiety, mix it in with the stress of lockdowns, add a pinch of social isolation, and we’ve prepared a little burnout.
But, I just have the solution. How about disconnecting from the network, leaving the news, crowded places and stress behind?
If that sounds like what you need, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite glamping getaways in Auckland and Northland. After all, the northern part of our beautiful country is the best place to experience the elements in autumn.
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Castaways Glam Campsite, Karioitahi Beach
One of Auckland’s glamping crown jewels is just an hour from the city center and overlooks the wild black sands of Karioitahi Beach.
You’ll be given an off-road buggy with a map and set off along the coastal hills on a treasure hunt to find your off-grid cabin. The beauty of this place is quite profound: although it is only an hour from the city center, you cannot see any traces of humans from your tent: no buildings, roads, lights, people or Wireless. Here you connect with the elements.
But let’s not forget the beautiful things. Isolation is not synonymous with discomfort. Although off the grid, the tent is heated, has a coffee machine, a generous selection of treats in the fridge to eat for dinner, an outdoor bath with a view of the sea and even a a Bluetooth speaker system to set the mood.
My favorite part was falling asleep to the sound of the rhythmic crashing of the waves on the beach below – it’s nature’s lullaby.
castaway glam campsite is $449 per night including meals, drinks package and buggy transfer. See: glamcamping.co.nz
A few minutes from Matakana, you’ll find a village of miniature teepees, with each tent perched above the ground on a circular platform, which you’ll reach on a winding walk. Inside you will find an ultra-comfortable bed, better than many hotels.
There are three tepees relatively close together, with a shared bathroom – and for the price it offers some of the best glamping in Auckland.
It’s a place to pray for rain – the crackle on the roof is hypnotic in its ability to melt away stress.
And you’re only a short drive from Tāwharanui Regional Park, teeming with birdlife, Omaha Beach, Goat Island, the Matakana Farmers’ Market, and a selection of wineries and breweries.
One night at Teepee Matakana from $125 per night. See: tipi.co.nz
Glamping Hunting Lodge, Waimauku
If a luxury getaway on a winery just yards from a cellar door sounds like your type of glamping, the Hunting Lodge in Waimauku is the perfect escape.
The tent has all the luxury touches, including bathrobes, a hairdryer and a heater – and a two-course dinner is included at the property’s award-winning restaurant.
Your glamping experience also includes breakfast, which means everything is catered for except drinks. Luckily you spend a night in a winery.
Glamping hunting lodge from $375 per night including dinner and breakfast. See: thehuntinglodgeglamping.co.nz
Black Rocks Retreat, Waiuku
If you want to escape the elements but don’t fancy a tent, Black Rocks Retreat offers a luxury solution.
It is just over an hour’s drive from the city center and has a luxury cabin overlooking Manukau Harbour, with views of the west side of town.
The cabin is kind of like a flashy hotel room with beachfront access and kayaks to explore the water. But the highlight is the outdoor bath, overlooking the harbor, where you and your loved one can relax in peace.
Black Rocks Retreat from $360 per night. See: canopycamping.co.nz
Matapouri Glamping, Matapouri
Overlooking the beautiful Poor Knights Islands, nestled in native bush, you’ll find Matapouri Glamping – one of Northland’s best hidden gems.
The Bowden family owns the mighty Tawapou Farm, the closest mainland point to the Poor Knights Islands. The property has a large area of regenerating native forest, and among these is the spectacular glamping site, with coastal views from the bed, terrace and outdoor bath.
You’re only a short drive to Matapouri Beach, one of Northland’s best, and don’t miss a snorkeling trip to the Poor Knights, which departs from nearby Tutukaka.
Matapouri Glamping from $355 per night. See: matapouriglamping.co.nz
Tui Hilltop, Whangārei
If Northland had a little slice of Bali, this retreat – perched on the side of a mountain with stunning views – would be it.
Tui Hilltop is the passion project of Greg Hall, who has spent 20 years meticulously laying out the land. He has now opened his property to the public, so they can enjoy what he has created.
The retreat has three huts; the first is a kitchen and dining area, a few steps down you will find a glazed bedroom, and finally a separate shower block with composting toilet.
As you are on top of a hill, you might even be lucky enough to wake up above the clouds.
Tui Summit from $290 per night. See: canopycamping.co.nz
Awatuna Yurt, Sandy Bay
One of Northland’s newest glamping getaways is nestled in native bushland, where you’ll fall asleep to the gentle trickle of the creek.
Rewind a few thousand years, and Awatuna Yurt would be fit for an emperor. The sumptuous interior features a luxurious bed, separate bathroom with flush toilet and outdoor bathtub.
Best of all, you’re less than a mile from Sandy Bay, which is a popular surf spot for locals – but also a great swimming beach.
Awatuna Yurt from $300 per night. See: canopycamping.co.nz
Small sheet metal shed, Mangawhai
The seaside community of Mangawhai encompasses the best of the winterless North. You’ll find fantastic swimming beaches, a bustling little village – with a chocolate factory – and great places to relax, like the Little Tin Shed. The retreat is for adults only, with one exception: dogs are allowed, provided they are well behaved and suitable for the farm.
Owner Julia Smith wanted to create a space where the focus was on slowing down and mutual pleasure. The result is a tiny home that celebrates the simplest things: reading a book, gazing at the stars, or listening to the birds. You will also find an impressive outdoor bath hidden in a mini mānuka forest.
Small sheet metal shed from $280 per night. See: canopycamping.co.nz
Stay safe: New Zealand is currently under Covid-19 restrictions. Follow the instructions on covid19.govt.nz.
The author has previously photographed for Canopy Camping, although this collection was put together on merit.