Manawatū is packed with gorgeous, peaceful spots that are perfect to park up your motorhome for the night – or for a few nights if you want to immerse yourself in Manawatū – from remote river locations to country pub vibes, to a place where you get the perfect beach sunset.
See below for some great places to stay when travelling by motorhome in the Manawatū – both paid and absolutely free.
Camping on the intrepid Rangitīkei River, surrounded by white cliffs, forest and farmland – what more could you want as a spot for your morning coffee? Here at Awastone you can also do rafting and kayaking and refuel at their on-site café open 8am – 8pm for coffees, light snacks and bar meals. What’s more, there is live music on Sunday afternoons during the summer months: this is motorhome camping at its finest.
How about parking up near a country pub for the night? The Āpiti Tavern has motorhome and caravan sites, friendly hospitality and a relaxed feel. It’s the ideal stop near the foot of the Ruahine Ranges, about 30-40 minutes’ drive from Feilding. Under new ownership, the updated menu is innovative and certainly utilised the owner’s skills as a NZ National BBQ Champion specialising in low and slow barbecue (think pulled smoked brisket burgers… delicious). All sorts of beverages are on tap too. Open Wednesdays to Sundays.
Āpiti Tavern, Āpiti
Settle in for free for the night at this peaceful small riverside reserve. There is no running potable water and the toilet is open in summer only – but when freedom camping lets you begin your day with a morning swim in an amazing swimming hole, far from any busy city, you’re winning! There are also swings for the kids.
For a peaceful spot in rural northern Manawatū, yet close to 24-hour toilet/shower facilities and dump stations, you’ll be pleased to know there’s a motorhome parking site (with some powered sites) right in the tiny village of Rangiwahia. Surrounded by farmland and trees, the Ruahine Ranges are very close and provide numerous walking trails. There’s even a tennis court and children’s playground nearby. The $10 per night charge ($15 for powered sites) assists the community in maintaining the hall, camping facilities and community projects – post your cash into the box at the back of the hall.
Rangiwahia Domain, Rangiwahia
Himatangi Beach Holiday Park
For a camping spot on the West Coast where you can watch the sun go down over the ocean, you can’t go past the award-winning Himatangi Beach Holiday Park, about 30km west of Palmerston North. The facilities are immaculate and well maintained, with friendly staff. There’s also a large playground for the kids. The dunes at this beach make up one of the largest sand dune fields in the Southern Hemisphere, but the walk to the beach from the Holiday Park is short. Grab some fish and chips from the local store and head over – don’t forget to keep an eye out for the giant sculpture of a buoy near the beach entrance, covered in a mosaic-tiled scene of sea life.
Himatangi Beach, Himatangi
Woodville Ferry Reserve
Less than five minutes out of Woodville, this grassy freedom camping spot is set in a picturesque valley beside the Manawatū River – and there’s so much space you’ll never be crammed up against any other campers! With a gorgeous swimming spot, free barbecue grills, clean long-drop toilets, slide and see saw, native bush walks, a small wetland and just oh-so-much-space, this is the place to be for real relaxation. Plus, the sunrises and sunsets are heavenly. Make sure you look out for the written panels detailing the history of the area.
Woodville Ferry Reserve
You’ll never get bored at this campsite! Situated between the Manawatū River and the Ashhurst township, the domain is a gorgeous space: more than 54 hectares of parkland to camp, picnic, stroll or bike in remnant native bush and wetland, watch birds, hang at the playground, and walk along the river. It’s also the best place to stay if you plan to tackle an early morning walk through the iconic Te Āpiti Manawatū Gorge. No booking required – pay the small fee at the office or an attendant will visit you to collect cash fees.
Ashhurst Domain, Ashhurst
Totara Reserve Campgrounds
Next to a safe swimming river and ancient native forest with many good walking trails, this is the ultimate peaceful campground – there’s even glow worm caves just up the road with free access! There are powered campsites, high quality toilet and hot shower facilities, and there’s a communal fire pit and landscaped play area. Make sure you book ahead in the summer.
Totara Reserve Campgrounds, Totara
This is a picnic area next to a gorgeous stony river with cliffs rising above, in a beautiful valley between Kimbolton and Āpiti. You can freedom camp here in a self-contained motorhome – with swims to cool off, and plenty of grassy space for picnicking or play, this would be an ideal spot to get away from it all for a night.
Go for a full remote freedom camping experience at this little reserve beside the river, just 10 minutes from Feilding – there is a bushwalk on the other side, which you cross a swing bridge to access. There are picnic tables at this reserve and a long drop toilet too.
Almadale Reserve, Feilding