Recycle old bicycle inner tubes by cutting them into 30cm long strips and tying the ends together to form a loop of rubber. These loops can be substitutes for guy rope springs. Simply fit one end of the loop around your tent peg and feed your guy rope through. This keeps your lines flexible and is better suited to that nasty gust of wind that would otherwise rip out your pegs or snap your line.
Buy wine in a box or buy soup bags to store your favourite wine out of the bottle and freeze them before going camping. Perfectly chilled wine without needing a corkscrew or taking glass with you.
Let the children be bored. Camping is the greatest environment for children to create their own fun, so if you resist the urge to tell the kids what they can do and let them explore and discover things on their own, they will create their own memories and develop a love and skill for the great Kiwi outdoors.
My best travel tip is packing the ukulele or guitar and finding other musos (usually somewhere on the outskirts of the camping area). There’s nothing like jamming around a fire with new friends.
We just got back from Whananaki in the north. It was our first time at a DOC camp ground and I preferred it over the ones that have it all. Going somewhere so secluded with no power, no flushing toilets, cold showers and certainly no phone reception (unless you walked 30 minutes over the hills) was great, knowing we couldn’t actually use our phones, even when we wanted to. You get in touch with nature and make the most of what you have around you. Like the good ol’ days. Kids were riding bikes all day and night, and no one was bored!
My best tip for freedom camping is to fill two 1.5L clear bottles (old water bottles) with fresh water at the beginning of the day and lay out in the sun. Then at the end of the day when you need to freshen up, change into your togs (if you’re not already in them), hold the bottle above your head and let the water flow down, stopping to soap up and then continue on. This is so much more effective than a solar shower. Sometimes the water can get very hot so you may need to add a little cold water to it first.
Take battery-powered fairy lights and clothes pegs. Hang the lights inside your tent using the pegs. Fantastic lighting – great for playing board games or eating when it gets dark – and it also gives you that glamping feel, anywhere you are.
My camping essential is a 100 per cent cotton sarong. I learnt while living in Africa how useful this is. When camping it can be a wrap to go to the shower, a mat to lie on, whether on grass or sand, a comfortable sheet on a hot night, mosquito protection in the evening, and a handy extra layer of sun or wind protection or even to dry off after a swim.
Don’t ever leave home without jandals – especially when camping – take a couple of pairs even. There are the showers, the beach, rocks, shells, hot asphalt and paths up to the corner dairy for the afternoon icecream, not to mention the in and out of the tent, so having something to flick on and off in a second is essential.
Take your mum – she organises everything, forgets nothing, cooks and files a camping plan of the destination, date of departure and date of arrival back with the neighbours in case of alien abduction, a zombie apocalypse or a plague of snakes on the mini van. Plus, she knows where to buy all the best snacks.
Make a master checklist of essentials for camping. Laminate and check off the items with a sharpie pen, which you rub off and reuse each year. Add to the master list when you spy great ideas used by other campers. This saves time inventing a new list each time and reminds you not forget to pack the sleeping bags, as we did one summer in earlier camping days. We used the sheepskin carseat covers for makeshift blankets but as these did not provide much coverage, a memorable cold night was spent, mostly blaming each other.
John and Gaynor McLean
My tip for a successful camping trip is to take a big box of “chill pills” with you. When camping, everything takes longer … so don’t be in a rush. It might take you until halfway through the morning just to rise and shine, enjoy your morning coffee, cook some toast… So it’s 11am? Who cares! Slow down and enjoy the simple things in life. After all, you are on holiday.
Support the local businesses. They are a goldmine of information on the best places to stay, visit, or avoid and if you’re lucky … even the good fishing spots!
The best tip for a successful camping trip for our family currently is to make sure we take the stove-top espresso (coffee percolator) to make great coffee each morning. No matter how long it took to get the kids to sleep, or how bad a sleep you had listening to the tent/trees/waves/birds, etc. Being able to make some great coffee in the morning, share it with your wife and start the day off right – no matter where you are – just resets your mind and ensures you’re ready for another great day with a 4-year-old and 5-year-old! You would be amazed how many people at the camping ground look over and say – “mate, that’s a great idea, I wish I had thought of it”.
Make the most of the opportunity to appreciate the luxuries we normally take for granted; a hot cup of tea, the stars at night, sunrises and sunsets. The simple things are the most important.
Take a small brush and pan to clean out the inside of the tent when you first put it up. Far easier than trying to shake all the grass, sand and dead bugs out of it at the end of your camping trip.
Try not to get in an argument with your partner while putting up the tent. Otherwise, just try to really switch off and enjoy the moment!