We arrived late afternoon and a bitterly cold and snowy afternoon, had the entire place to ourselves. Plenty of places to tuck our campervan, woke up to breathtaking views after a night of heavy snow. No trouble getting out as the gravel roads are in great condition.
We loved this campsite. It is beautiful... The only problem is the sand flies ! A real nuisance.
Richard & Chris, UK
As others have said, no longer free, but worth the $8 (if I remember correctly) per person. Plenty of room to park up, under trees or in the open. Nice strolls by the river or into the forest. Long rattly drive in from the main road.
Beautiful remote spot but not free.
this camp site is no longer free. not a bad spot except for sand flies. if you are not so bothered by it
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.
One hour walk (10 mins car) from the main road. Very, very big campground with lot of private spots. with two toilets with toilet paper and hand sanitation. Lots of sandflies :(
No water but water from stream is clean. Shelter with a fireplace and two tables. Lot of opportunities for day walks or multi day tramps.
It can't get much more remote than this for camping with a campervan. There is an amazing track off the site, which we unfortunately only walked for a bit.
Great place very spacious, but can be crowded in times. We had it once all for ourselves and once there was a bootcamp of the NZ army, the guys were jogging early morning and the Officer was shouting very loud "Everybody silent! People are sleeping"
Very nice people though. Watch out for the rough road, we got a big rock stuck between the back double-tires, long rough roads harbour this risk and then you get stuck.
What a great campsite to try to get to, down long dusty untarmacked roads, over a narrow bridge and still further into the seeming middle of nowhere. However, when we got there, we were expecting utter solitude, but there was a school trip of 40plus teenagers.. So we turned around and drove all the way back to the main road. Could have been so good though!
Best campsite we been to. There is only a toilet and a huge field. We were there with 2 other tents, but they were far, far, far away. In the middle of nature!!
Probably our favourite camp site, right up a long and windy gravel track in the middle of the mountains. Properly wild, with mountains all around and a river crashing nearby. Loads of sandflies though, but plenty of space.