Monowai Campsite

Monowai Campsite

Lake Monowai


Spelelis's avatar


Ranking: 6/10

It's 14km off the main road & 8 of that is gravel. Positioned right above the beautiful lake, there's lot's of space for smaller vans/cars, but not after a heavy rain (very soft ground). I'd like to point out that there's LOADS of mice, mosquitoes & sandflies. When sandflies go to sleep, mosquitoes wake up so there's not a single minute of peace if you're not well prepared (we had mozzie sticks & spray repellent but it didn't help for more than a few minutes). We also got a few mice in the van, even on the bed. Oh and the toilet... Smelly, buzzy, one of the absolute worst we've come across. But the scenery is fantastic, there's a few walks near-by and the beech forest makes you feel like you're in a fairytail (if you keep on moving so the flies don't catch you - haha).

Reviewed over 1 year ago

JT's avatar


Ranking: 7/10

if you love sandflies than this place will be perfect. but we had good conversations to other travellers and a campfire so it es quite ok for this expensive region. far away from the highway and gravel all the way

Reviewed over 2 years ago and experienced in January 2019

Alan's avatar


Ranking: 8/10

Great and very relaxing place with beautiful views. Sandflies can be an issue!

Reviewed over 2 years ago and experienced in September 2017

Mitchell's avatar


New Zealand

Ranking: 6/10

Well of the beaten track, stayed here on our way down to bluff. Toilets not maintained at all, heaps of sand flies, not a big place to park up.

Reviewed over 2 years ago

Karo's avatar


Ranking: 3/10

Long drop toilets weren't clean and full of sandflies and mosquitos. Pack your insect repellent! Directly at a lake

Reviewed over 2 years ago

J wells's avatar

J wells

Ranking: 8/10

Nice spot tucked out of the way not a huge area for campers but smaller vehicles could tuck under the trees. Gravel road to reach the site and quite a few sand flies even in September.

Reviewed almost 3 years ago

Rachel's avatar


Ranking: 10/10

Worth the long drive for the clean air & sheltered camp in the trees.
We tucked our van into the trees, & were careful to stay out of the mud.
There is a simple toilet.

Reviewed about 3 years ago

Florian's avatar


Ranking: 8/10

We arrived late, it was dark, was kinda hard to tell where to park. We saw a few cars parked amongst the trees. Ended up getting our 2wd van stuck and took a few of us and a lot of bad words to get it back up onto the road. Don’t go down between the trees unless it’s dry and it’s flat as it slopes down in most places and there’s lots of roots which make it hard to turn and get out again! Ended up following the road up a bit to a larger gravel parking area with lots of vans around, so that’s probably a safer option... toilets are decent and nice location as long as it doesn’t get too crowded but you should always be able to find a spot either way.

Reviewed over 3 years ago

Avoid Camping Fines!

Each camping location is approved by a regional council in NZ. So if it shows on the map, you’re allowed to stay.

The Rankers Camping NZ app, is also in association with…

Matthew Henderson's avatar

Matthew Henderson

Ranking: 10/10

10/10 mint spot for a fish, have a couple of cold ones and meet great people!

Reviewed over 3 years ago

Jephthah Burns's avatar

Jephthah Burns

Ranking: 7/10

Enjoyed this site very much. Stayed 4 nights in January and every night the quantity of campers well exceeded the recommended number so to be expected that the loos weren't fantastic. They are serviced regularly and luxury as far as no-flush loos go, unfortunately many campers opting for their own spot in the bush so recommend children play in open spaces only. The views are gorgeous even from dam face, nearby bush walks are easy tracks for a relaxing outing.
Would give this a 10 were it not so heavily populated overnight.

Reviewed over 3 years ago

Xanthe Bowater's avatar

Xanthe Bowater

Ranking: 10/10

AMAZING! A bit of a long drive to get here but absolutely worth it. The view and whole atmosphere of the place is wonderful. The facilities are beyond horrendous, so better if you are self-contained, but even still, one of the greatest free (or paying!!) campsites we have stayed in.

Reviewed over 4 years ago

Eric Pollard's avatar

Eric Pollard


Ranking: 7/10

Not a bad spot. A little far in but lovely trees. Better for tents then campers though. Long drop toilet was filthy and horribly smelly. Good walking trails around.

Reviewed almost 5 years ago

Pamela Hoffman's avatar

Pamela Hoffman

Ranking: 6/10

Was very wet when we went there making the tree area unusable. Appeared to be very pretty but lots of sand flies and mosquitos even in mid April. Lots of other folks coming thru making it crowded for the small area. But is a good place for transitioning from Catlins to Te Anau.

Reviewed over 5 years ago

Helen James's avatar

Helen James

Ranking: 8/10

Hell bent on spending a night off the grid in the New Zealand wilderness we came here in a 6 berth motor home. No trouble accessing the area. We drove through the boat ramp carpark and up to the higher gravel area to park so views were not to be had but we got a nice level ground in the middle. Quite busy with smaller groups by nightfall. Walk to the lookout offers a stunning view. We built a small fire which the kids loved. Toilet even ok for a long drop. One of our most favourite nights on this trip.

Reviewed over 5 years ago

Werner S's avatar

Werner S

Ranking: 5/10

Located nicely in the forest by the lake, but the millions of sandflies and mosquitoes were eating us alive, not even deterred by plenty of "Off".

Reviewed over 5 years ago

James Barrell's avatar

James Barrell

Ranking: 10/10

What an amazing location! Beautiful location among lichen covered trees on the edge of a magnificent lake. We parked our van on a flat spot off the road and made a campfire. It was out of a storybook. We took a walk in the morning to the lookout which was spectacular. One of our favourite nights in NZ.

Reviewed almost 6 years ago

Christoph's avatar



Ranking: 8/10

Free campsite inside the beech forest, daytime sandflies, nighttime mosquitoes.

Reviewed over 6 years ago

Camping NZ App Icon

Camping NZ App

Every camping site on your iPhone™, iPad™ or Android™ phone or tablet. Avoid camping penalties using this council approved app. Featuring offline maps.

Download from the App Store Download Android app on Google Play

Clement Oudjaovok's avatar

Clement Oudjaovok


Ranking: 7/10

Free campground, basic but nice view.

Reviewed over 6 years ago

Coralie Ambrosino's avatar

Coralie Ambrosino


Ranking: 6/10

Free campground, basic but nice view.

Reviewed over 6 years ago

Sebastiaan Kemperman's avatar

Sebastiaan Kemperman

Ranking: 8/10

Nice and sheltered, if you drive up the hill. Situated in a beautiful forest next to the lake, short and longer walks nearby. Spent new years eve here, very quiet.

Reviewed over 6 years ago

Bert Gielen's avatar

Bert Gielen

Ranking: 8/10

Remote free camping spot near a nice lake. Great starting point for multi day hikes into Fiordland. Cabin huts are free if you reach them after hiking. Two toilets.

Reviewed over 6 years ago

Kimberley Garrod's avatar

Kimberley Garrod

Ranking: 4/10

Not many spaces with views of lake one or two in car park. Could be a great location if more open areas were provided. Most parking areas for camping are surrounded by trees so no views from this site. Some picnic areas but very limited view of the lake. There is a short walk to look out however no views of lake in till you get to the look out at the end but very over grown here. Very sheltered site. Two toilets available on this site. Donation site. Main car park area taken up with boat trailers and cars but some parking for motor homes might be available with better views in this car park area for one or two. In late December when visited very few flying friends were present but some repellent would be recommended. Very quite here not many campers. 6km gravel road to reach very flat drive into this site. Not got good views from camping areas.

Reviewed over 6 years ago

Ron Clarke's avatar

Ron Clarke

Czech Republic

Ranking: 9/10

Long drive in rewarded with freedom camping at the lake in the trees. Campfire, walk to point look out. Yes there are sandflys. Seems like some irresponsible campers have caused DOC to block vehicles from the prime sites in the trees. Too bad still we parked on the edge of the car park and it was great.

Reviewed over 6 years ago

auré bis's avatar

auré bis


Ranking: 6/10

Not much more to say than phil & laura.
Depending on which season you get to this campground, do NOT forget the repellant!
2 long drop toilets 100m away from the place where you park but no water tap.
As usually, the free doc campground are far way from everything, but the location worths the distance.

Reviewed over 8 years ago and experienced in January 2013

Phil   & Laura's avatar

Phil & Laura

United Kingdom

Ranking: 7/10

Basic DOC campsite. Lovely location. Quite a few campers there when we arrived but it was tranquil. Nice short walk away from the campsite along the lakeside offering the chance of secluded swimming. First contact with sandflies, so repellant necessary, plus insect killer if they get into the van. Set into a wooded area, most vans were parked on raised ground away from the lakeside. There was some construction work underway on the river, but it did not disturb us. Loos were a bit below par here.

Reviewed over 8 years ago

Stefan Mudl's avatar

Stefan Mudl


Ranking: 8/10

Unpaid, nice lake view, many day treks.

Reviewed about 10 years ago and experienced in March 2011