Photo by Dan Kerins; courtesy of Canopy Camping
Courtesy of PurePod
Excuse me while I kiss the sky: The extraordinary PurePods accommodations allow you to sleep by the light of the Milky Way.
Forget pitching a tent. When you stay in these luxurious huts, domes, and pods, getting close to nature doesn’t mean roughing it.
Flaunting some of the most extraordinary scenery and stargazing in the world, New Zealand is where travelers come to experience some of the greatest of the great outdoors, but that doesn’t mean they have to sleep on the ground. From big companies with tents, pods, and geodesic domes all over the North and South Islands, to independent eco-experiences, travelers seeking alternatives to hotel rooms are spoiled for choice. We’ve handpicked some favorites from the crowd, based on rigorous research that required soaking in outdoor tubs with expansive views, using alfresco pizza ovens with expansive views, sleeping in glass rooms with expansive views, and watching lambs frisk around in front of expansive views. The result: This list of New Zealand’s best glamping escapes, ones that seamlessly blend the best of nature with cushy amenities for travelers seeking alternatives to hotels.
With more than 50 diverse glamping sites on the North and South Islands, Canopy Camping has something to suit every traveler, from a luxury safari tent camp near Kaikoura’s seal colonies to an intimate Hobbit-like stylish stay built into the hillside. It offers a range of accommodations from a room for two to a 48-person village. All Canopy Camping sites are designed with seclusion and scenery in mind, with comfy beds, hot showers, and proper toilets to keep stays civilized.
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For a special South Island getaway near magical Punakaiki (Pancake Rocks), a pair of wood cabins—Fox Hut and Woodpecker Hut—deliver a Rockies aesthetic amid Big Sur rugged gorgeousness. Hop in the outdoor wood-fired hot tub for magnificent views of the Tasman Sea and sunset, and soak up the stars through floor-to-ceiling windows beside a blazing fire. Each of these cabins sleeps two.
—On the North Island, locations near Coromandel, Hobbiton, Hawke’s Bay, Northland, Tauranga, Taupo, Bay of Plenty, Rotorua, Wellington. On the South Island, near Kaikoura, Abel Tasman, Timaru, Punakaiki, Marlborough, Nelson, Canterbury, Banks Peninsula. From NZD$190 (about US$120) per night.
Off-the-grid, modern glass-box PurePods offer six remote locations, each set on vast private land and requiring a mind-clearing 5- to 15-minute hike to reach. Nothing impedes the views of nature or the stars here: the walls, floor, and ceiling are made of durable glass, and even the headboards and chairs are clear Lucite. Push-button heating, heated floors, a telescope, Bluetooth speaker, and an en suite bathroom make these two-person pods ultra plush. Opt for the dinner and breakfast package, featuring high-quality local ingredients like New Zealand cheeses, lamb, and beef for grilling (vegetarian options available).
—Locations near Christchurch, Banks Peninsula, Waipara, Greta Valley (2), Kaikoura. From NZD$550 (US$350) per night.
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Valley Views Glamping melds high-end private retreat and communal camping touches with its five roomy geodesic dome tents and cabin. All have private decks, king beds, and vast Waitaki Valley and mountain views, and each sleeps up to four, making Valley Views a good family-friendly option. Shared kitchen and barbecue facilities encourage guest mingling, and common bathrooms feature flush toilets and private shower stalls (domes do have camping toilets for middle-of-the-night situations). Two pairs of outdoor bathtubs up the glam factor, each tucked in the forest with rustic privacy walls and bucolic farm views. In 2021, owners Patrick and Amber Tyrrell plan to add an events dome for 50-person glamping weddings and retreats.
Tip: Preorder the homemade camp dinner after a long day’s drive, and request either “Lone Hill” or “Te Kohurau” for a dome with your own wood-fired stove.
—North Otago (near Waitaki Valley, Lake Benmore, Omarama, “Alps 2 Ocean” cycling route). From NZD $280 (about US$180) per night, including continental breakfast.
With more than 1,700 New Zealand listings, evenly split between the North and South Islands, Glamping Hub has the broadest collection of glamping sites to choose from. For total seclusion and views for days, narrow your search to Waitomo Hilltop Glamping’s luxury safari tent. Located on a sprawling 1,700-acre beef and dairy farm, the tent sleeps two comfortably and can handle up to four adults using the pullout sofa. (The tent’s first guest? Australian supermodel Rachel Hunter.)
Thoughtful extras by owners Emily and Benjamin Scott make this retreat a standout. A welcome kit contains s’mores fixings and eco-friendly New Zealand–made toiletries, while an enormous en suite bathroom pampers with velvety robes and his and hers sinks. Campfire cooks will relish the outdoor pizza oven, fire pit, and separate covered kitchen stocked with freshly baked bread, organic eggs, fresh herbs, and more. The main event is definitely a sudsy hot soak in side-by-side, made-for-Instagram outdoor cast-iron tubs, delivering 360-degree views of impossibly green hills.
—Waitomo Hilltop near Waitomo Glowworm Caves. From NZD$380 (approx US$240) per night
The Lindis, on AFAR’s 2019 Stay List, expands its striking five-suite lodge with three new private pods, opening October 1. Double-glazed mirrored glass walls on three sides afford guests privacy and unspoiled views of the scenic Ahuriri Valley, while guests outside the pod see the surrounding landscape reflected back at them for full immersion in nature. Designed by architect Noel Martin, each secluded pod features king beds, en suite baths, outdoor gas-heated tubs and private decks, plus all of the lodge’s renowned world-class amenities, from fly fishing and horse riding to exceptional cuisine.
—Near Ahuriri Valley, Southern Alps. From NZD$2,000 (US$1,280) per night for two adults, two-night minimum
>>Next: Plan Your Trip With AFAR’s Travel Guide to New Zealand
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