Tips for planning your summer family camping holiday

There is no shortage of evidence pointing towards the health benefits of spending time in nature. So with summer on the horizon, what better (or more Kiwi) way to get outdoors than to spend some time family camping?

The Department of Conservation (DOC) manages more than 200 campsites in some of New Zealand’s most stunning locations, which cater for everyone from “wilderness wanderers” through to “glampers.” You can find a list of DOC’s most family-friendly campsites at www.doc.govt.nz.

DOC also has some great tips to help you plan your summer family camping holiday:

1) Safety in numbers – If being the sole provider of your family’s entertainment for an entire holiday leaves you feeling a little overwhelmed, it would be a good idea to plan your trip with friends. Ensuring everyone has a playmate (parents included) halves the work and doubles the fun.

2) Avoid hunger – Don’t scrimp on the food rations and keep them coming. Fresh air and exercise demand frequent snacks and regular meals. The excitement of al fresco dining and provision of yummy treats are also great for lifting the mood.

3) Be prepared – Pick a campsite that caters to the group’s interests and abilities and keep an eye on weather forecasts in advance of your trip. It’s useful to have a backup plan/location if things look bleak. Essentials to take include plenty of warm clothes/bedding, wet weather gear, a first aid kit, insect repellent and sun cream.

4) Keep your options open – Look for campsites with plenty of activity options and make sure you are kitted out with books, bikes, binoculars, ball games etc. Bird spotting, fossicking in rock pools and snorkelling are all fantastic for getting that beneficial connection with the natural world. Safe swimming opportunities would be top of most kids’ lists when asked what makes the perfect summer camping experience.

5) Seize the opportunity – In the excitement and change of routine that a camping holiday provides, you might find it a good time to break some bad habits. It might be the chance you are looking for to put away those phones, tablets and TVs for a while. You may even find an exciting camping trip an opportune time to break your child’s dependency on a pacifier or demanding bedtime routine…here’s hoping!

6) Choose your home comforts – depending on your distance from home (and the size of your vehicle) a camping holiday needn’t be an endurance test. Soft mattresses, entire toy train sets, bean bags—you choose what you’d rather not do without. If glamour camping (glamping) is your style then DOC campsites equipped with flushing toilets, showers and easy road access, might be for you. Visit DOC’s glamping section at www.doc.govt.nz/glampers.