Little Waipa Reserve

Little Waipa Reserve

Lake Karapiro


35 Rankers Reviews

2 Face-to-Face

4 Putaruru

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Little Waipa reserve is on the banks of Lake Karapiro and accessed via Horahora road, it’s a popular spot for day-trippers. It is slightly elevated with great views of the lake and a lovely grassy area leading down to a boat ramp at the lake shore and river inlet.

Self-contained caravans and campervans can stay the first two nights free then a camping permits is required for a longer stay. Camping in tents and vehicles required a camping permit. This requires a camping permit which can be purchased from the South Waikato District Council offices or the district’s Information Centres. Click Online Booking Button above.


Feature Value Info


South Waikato District Council

Local government organisation


North IslandWaikatoPutaruru


  • Freedom Camping
  • Free


Showing 13 reviews of 35.

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Olga's avatar


Ranking: 7/10

A nice spot on the river bank, but it was overcrowded on weekends, a lot of dogs and some not on the lash,
toilets clean, but some people used them for damping their toilets. Hot showers were unexpected nice surprise.

Reviewed 6 months ago

Max maxwell's avatar

Max maxwell

Ranking: 10/10

Have stayed here for 5 nights now. The info on rankers says it costs but it is actually free. You can stay for 2 nights, if longer apply online for a free permit. The toilets are clean, there are hot showers and the river is wonderful for swimming - easy access and sandy bottom. This is a 5 knot max speed area for boats so NO water skiing, NO jet skis. Lots of big trees for shade, friendly campers, quiet. We love it

Reviewed 7 months ago

Time Out's avatar

Time Out

Ranking: 9/10

Awesome spot right on the river with lovely shade trees. We had river views through every window in our caravan and the numerous swans and ducks swimming by made it particularly picturesque. The track for cycling or walking starts from the camp area providing a great activity spot. There is a boat and kayak launch site as well. There are shower facilities, recycling and very clean toilets (non flush). Stayed 2 nights and will definitely be back again.

Reviewed almost 2 years ago

Allen Goodall's avatar

Allen Goodall

Ranking: 10/10

Under the site’s description it says no showers. We have just stayed there and yes there are showers. Great place to stay. Loved it. We freedom camped in our camper.

Reviewed over 2 years ago

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Rod Brown's avatar

Rod Brown

Ranking: 10/10

Amazing the new facilities at this camp now has showers (Cold but refreshing) and BBqs The facilities were as usual spotlessly clean. Lawns mowed and now showing signs of the hot weather. It has to be my favourite camp site on the Waikato river.

Reviewed over 3 years ago

John Plane's avatar

John Plane

New Zealand

Ranking: 10/10

Beautiful spot. 20+ MHs plus caravans & tents but tons of space. Very peaceful even though a lot of people there. No cellphone cover but is that a bad that’s not a bad thing.

Reviewed over 3 years ago

Roland Hänni's avatar

Roland Hänni

Ranking: 8/10

Lovely place at riverside and pretty well equipped (toilets and BBQ).
Will soon get showers and a 2nd BBQ.
Easy and fast application for free permit via website

Reviewed over 3 years ago

Alyson Reid's avatar

Alyson Reid

Ranking: 7/10

Cute little spot next to the river. Very peaceful and quiet. Two long drop toilets. Watch out for sandflies.

Reviewed over 4 years ago

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Haley Everitt's avatar

Haley Everitt

Ranking: 3/10

Beautiful location but didn't end up staying the night because of other park guests. Did not feel safe.

Reviewed about 5 years ago

Helen Quirk's avatar

Helen Quirk

Ranking: 9/10

Amazing location and family friendly. We spent two nights over Waitangi Weekend and it was amazingly relaxing. For those into mountain biking the trails around are fantastic including a crazy long boardwalk area. Bring toilet paper!!
Only downside is no water but other than that was a sensational spot.

Reviewed over 5 years ago

Maaike Goudriaan's avatar

Maaike Goudriaan


Ranking: 10/10

Spaceous campground. Stayed here in January, I guess there were about 30 vans and cars around but it didn't really feel crowded. Longdrops are very clean and no need to take your waste with you. Very close to Hobbiton!
Superfriendly Dutch (Frysian) campwarden lives at the end of the road, came by to say hi to all campers when I was there. Since I was travelling alone he told me that I could always come see them if I needed any help, that made me feel really safe.
Nice views on the lake, easy to find. One of the best free campgrounds I encountered in NZ.

Reviewed over 5 years ago

Mark's avatar


New Zealand

Ranking: 10/10

We stayed two wonderful nights in out family tent on the water-front. Quiet all night - expect for the birds and fish jumping [fantastic]. We had a great time kayaking and walking the river trail., No trouble launching kayaks in the water by the ramp at the north end of the camp. We are experienced, so have wheels for the kayak because you never know how far you have to launch from the car, but if you don't you could always drive your kayak up to the ramp. Happy to have the Warden there, so rules are obeyed and there is no issues to deal with. Camping by permit although a few days you can stay without before you require this. Other guys with boats, but just for fishing etc, because there is a strict 5 knot speed limit. Little bit of water weed around the banks but a few areas you can swim near the boat ramp. Didn't see any free roaming dogs, except for some self contained pets that were well managed, self contained, and not an issue for anybody. Couldn't find any fault with this site. Remember to pack enough water for the duration of your stay.

Reviewed over 5 years ago

Alison Males's avatar

Alison Males

Ranking: 4/10

First night in New Zealand, excited about free camp site as per Camping NZ App. On arrival told by camp "warden" can't tent camp in certain spot in shade as reserved for camper vans. So not "first in first served" unless you have a van. Not sure why vans get shade priority. Also says pet free camp site but many regular camper van owners with yapping dogs. Difficult to access water as camper vans parked alway along the water front. Wouldn't recommend it if your tenting, very unfriendly. Great if your in a van looking for doggy friendly camping.

Reviewed over 5 years ago