15 Rankers Reviews
283 Basic Camping
15 Arthur's Pass
The Hawdon Shelter Camping Ground is a huge camping area on the grassy flats surrounded by mature beech trees. This place could be a bit exposed during high winds, so you would have to tuck in to be sheltered. There is a shelter to sit out of the wind, have lunch or simply chill out. There are several walks that start from here that foloow along the Hawdon River.
To get here turn off on Mt. White Road, turn left at the sign just past the bridge.
South Island ▷ Canterbury ▷ Arthur's Pass
Number of tent sites - 20.
Showing 8 reviews of 15.
Beautiful remote spot but not free.
Save up to 70% on campsite fees! Support conservation and experience the natural beauty of NZ. 79 Department of Conservation campsites, one convenient pass.
this camp site is no longer free. not a bad spot except for sand flies. if you are not so bothered by it
Access savings worth hundreds of $$ on Top Ranked NZ Accommodation and Activities for just $1 per day.
No running water, charged camping fees! Supposed to be free! Beautiful nature.
We all loved this spot. Beautiful and roomy! Lovely bush to walk through.
Great open space. Long drops. Ample parking by the trees. Drive up not too bad at all.
In 2015 we parked up at the DOC camping site in Arthurs pass itself opposite the DOC centre. Great location, flush loos, no power but ok. About the only problem was the constant rumble of trains going right past the camp site up till about mid night and slightly beyond - so not the best nights sleep. This time we stayed at the Hawdon camping ground which is only about 10 minutes prior to Arthurs Pass. So - no shortage of places to park (we had two vans - and the only other vehicles were some mad people who were doing the trek up the river to the hut). Take your pick as to where you want to park - the place is huge. No flush loos (just a couple of long drops) - but clean enough. Be warned - if you are there in mid winter the temperature will go sub zero (it was minus 4.5 the night we stayed) - so you'll need gas heating in your van, and extra blankets for the bed. I would not recommend the site for the smaller hi-top or people mover type vans in winter they have no insulation and its just too cold). Even the larger vans will struggle with the gas on high to be honest (unless its a wilderness or iconic van).
Also - if its that cold then don't expect the water in your camper van to be running the next morning. Best part though - absolutely silent. Next time - we might try a slightly better insulated camper van but I would have no hesitation staying there again.
Best scenery we've seen so far in New Zealand. Great open spaces, good walks, decent toilet and the drive over the gravel road isn't too bad once found. Only con is the mountains of sand flies, when you can see past them it's breathtaking.
Hawdon offers serenity and scenic vistas aplenty. Surrounded by mountains, the campsite is enormous and offers plenty of opportunities to tuck into the trees for a more secluded feel, especially if you have access to a 4WD vehicle to go a bit further off-road from the one gravel track that leads into the camp.
As day trip excursions we walked in the trails behind the campsite and took the 30min walk to the Waimak for a dip in the chilly water to cool off.
Carefully consider the mountain forecast before heading to Hawdon of course especially if tenting. Strong nor'westors will make this spot windy and wet due to the proximity to the divide. Sandflies are a bit of a nuisance as the only major setback for this location unfortunately.
I'd certainly recommend Hawdon Shelter for anyone keen for an escape into the great outdoors. The facilities are basic but the location spectacular and worth a couple of nights stay at least. Friends and I have been twice and look forward to visiting again in the summer.
Thanks to all the good people working for the NZ Department of Conservation - for all your hard work - making NZ more beautiful, accessable and healthy! Cheers 😍