Camping at Hurunui Mouth, North Canterbury

North Canterbury, roughly the area between Christchurch and Kaikoura, certainly isn’t the most popular region of New Zealand. Most people drive straight through, but there are some cool things to see including Gore Bay (and the Cathedral Cliffs), Manuka Bay and Hurunui Mouth. There are several places to camp in North Canterbury — we chose Hurunui Mouth and it turned out to be a great experience.

Things to do at Hurunui Mouth

This off the beaten path camping ground is close to some scenic areas. You can walk down the beach (more of a riverbank I guess) easily from the camping ground, but make sure to also head up the hill for some great views. There are a couple of clearings close to the camping ground turnoff, but it’s worth continuing up to the end of the road. From there you can tackle the two hour return hike to Manuka Bay (which you can also drive to) or look back towards Hurunui Mouth for a nice view over the beach.

READ MORE: Manuka Bay, North Canterbury

Camping at Hurunui Mouth, North Canterbury, New ZealandHurunui Mouth viewpoint, North Canterbury, New ZealandHurunui Mouth walk to Manuka Bay, North Canterbury, New Zealand

Camping at Hurunui Mouth

We decided to camp at Hurunui Mouth because it seemed like a nice area and it was pretty cheap (OK, it was mostly the cheap part). It costs $10 per vehicle / campsite (which is actually kind of expensive if you’re on your own). You don’t get much for your money but the bathrooms were surprisingly clean and there is running water. There were maybe 5- 10 vehicles and a couple of tents when we were there. There is heaps of room and I can’t imagine it ever getting completely full.

Hurunui Mouth Camping Ground, North Canterbury, New ZealandHurunui Mouth view, North Canterbury, New Zealand

Getting to Hurunui Mouth

Hurunui Mouth Camping Ground is a short detour from the main road, some of which is gravel. Turn off at Domett (roughly halfway between Christchurch and Kaikoura).From that turnoff you can also reach Gore Bay, where you can see the impressive Cathedral Cliffs. Also stop off at nearby Manuka Bay, which was the best beach we visited in North Canterbury. Motunau Beach also looks good; we didn’t end up making it there though.

READ MORE: Gore Bay and the Cathedral Cliffs, North Canterbury

Have you camped at Hurunui Mouth before? What was your experience like? Let us know in the comments below!

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Jon Algie

I'm a South Island local -- born in Timaru and raised in Dunedin. I left the island in 2006 and returned 10 years later. Having seen a good chunk of the world I realised how special this place is -- the most beautiful island in the world! Seven years (and almost 400 posts) later I'm still helping locals and tourists alike plan their trips around the South Island.