Special campsites for mobile homes are called motorparks or caravan parks. A powered site for a campervan and 2 adults costs around NZ$15-30 per night, depending on location and facilities. By far the most expensive campground of our trip was the Top 10 Holiday Park in Christchurch at NZ$36 per night (close to the airport). The Top 10 Holiday Parks are part of a campsite network: the facilities are of a high standard and you receive a discount if you become a member. Most of the the independently owned campgrounds are cosier, more personal, and on top of all that they are often at a more favourable price.
The DOC conservation campsites are very close to nature and located in stunning spots.
DOC campsites have fewer comforts: sometimes there's only cold water and no waste disposal, dump stations are rare – but they're definitely worth a stay! Often the campsites are situated in national parks and close to awesome tramping trails or right near beautiful beaches. The fees are quite affordable at NZ$5-8 per night per person.
When you arrive at the campground, you check in at the campsite office where you tell your host how long you'd like to stay and if you need a powered site. You pay in advance and write your name, the number of people, your vehicle registration number and the number of nights you've booked into a book. If we weren't sure about the place, we just booked one night – if it turns out to be nice, you can always extend your stay. Mostly, we could choose the site ourselves (depending on the occupancy). Some campsites are that large you get a map when checking in. The welcome was always hearty and the helpfulness of our hosts and other campers was unforgettable (read my travelogue).
Most DOC campsites have no office. Instead you put the fee (displayed at the entrance) into an envelope and throw it into a box. In addition to that you fix a note to your vehicle. Sometimes a DOC worker stops by in the evening and collects the fees. Very occasionally there's a note saying you should register at the nearest visitor centre.
Most campgrounds have spacious cooking facilities (sometimes outdoor kitchens) and an additional BBQ. When you make use of the cooking facilities, you will meet people and often you can have a nice talk while preparing your meal. It goes without saying that you have to clean your cooking area when you have finished.
There is usually no extra fee for using the showers. At some campgrounds you press a button for 5 minutes of hot water. If you need longer: You can press it twice ;-) Very occasionally you will need to buy shower coins.
Many campgrounds have laundry facilities and often a tumble dryer as well (which comes in handy when it's raining). You need NZ$1-2 per laundry. Some washing machines add washing powder automatically, so it's advisable to read the manual.
DOC Maitai Bay Campground · more Karikari Peninsula pictures