“If you’re a New Zealander who can’t find somewhere a little bit special and different and empty and that perfectly suits your needs, you’re probably not trying hard enough. This is a very big country with very few people and relatively few tourists.”
Sarah says her preferred place to stay on holiday is holiday parks and the idea that the ‘Kiwi camping holiday’ has become overpriced is a misconception.
“I don’t really think those prices are trending upwards. I think they’re actually really stable.”
She says holiday parks from just before Christmas to the end of January are the same as they’ve always been.
“It’s gonna be wall-to-wall Kiwis with boats and kids and lilos and all of that carry-on.”
From February to April you will encounter more foreign tourists, but Sarah says she doesn’t mind hanging out with them herself.
“They kind of you make you appreciate better what we might be taking for granted.”
DOC camps? Sarah says they're the greatest gift going.
“There’s heaps of them that are free, there are a whole band of them that are five bucks, and even the most expensive are not more than $10, $15 a night.”
In terms of camping gear, you’ll soon work out pretty quickly what it is you need, says Sarah. Her top tip is to hit TradeMe.
“While you’re on there make sure everyone in the family has got a bicycle. The Department of Conversation and regional councils are going crazy to build us cycle trails.”
And her recommended trails?
For a family on a summer holiday, the Nelson or Hawke's Bay areas.
“The great thing about their trails is they’re relatively flat and they’ve clement climates most of the time.”
For the more intrepid, she highly recommends the Old Ghost Road, but warns it is probably booked out for this summer.
“For anyone who is a mid-to-advanced mountain biker that is the one.”
Sarah Barnett the author of five editions of New Zealand Lonely Planet and NZ Road Trips Guided Book.