Camping In Taupo At 5 Mile Bay

Sadly 5 Mile Bay closed to freedom camping during the Covid 19 lockdown and will not reopen. If you are looking for somewhere to stay we highly recommend that you check out Whakaipo Bay a DOC camping area on the other side of Taupo. The access road is a little rough and may not suit some motorhomers. Check out my blog on the place here.

Leaving behind Adrian and Sally at the Evers Swindell Reserve in Hastings we made our way into Napier for a stop at the dump station located in the Foreshore Reserve. It’s also a designated freedom camping area right on the beach. It would however be useless to us as you have to be able to fit into a carpark space to use it and at 9 metres we don’t quite make it.

In my last blog I talked about the illegal camping notice I received, which proves that they patrol these areas really well. Turns out that their security guard had made a mistake looking up the past record missing the fact that our two previous nights had been at Clifton Beach. In Napier Hastings you can move from site to site as long as you don’t spend more than two consecutive nights at any one site.


From Napier/Hastings it was onto Taupo where last year the Taupo district council changed their regulations around freedom camping closing the popular spot around the Boat Harbour and others inside the town forcing motorhomer’s either to stay at one of the paid camps, the NZMCA Park or 5 Mile Bay. At least there is still daytime parking at the boat harbour as the town is not exactly overrun with large car parks.

When we did our South Island trip earlier this year we stopped off at the NZMCA Park to break the journey so this time we thought we would check out 5 Mile Bay. This is a DOC administered piece of land but unlike other DOC camps this one is a freedom camp. You can camp anywhere here on a first come first served basis as long as you don’t stay on the tar sealed section.

People had told us that there is a cycle way that runs along the foreshore from the camp all the way into Taupo, so rather than try and park our motorhome in town we decided to park up at the camp and cycle into town. As we arrived around lunchtime we were lucky enough to get a great spot. With the people from the previous night having departed and the new ones yet to arrive we settled in with our great views of the lake.

After a quick bite of lunch it was out with the bikes for the ride into town. It really is a fantastic trail that is either concreted or paved the whole way and as it follows the foreshore it’s almost completely flat perfect for the novice rider. Or a breeze for someone with riding experience with great views along the way.

Not everyone takes the cycle trail quite as sedately as we did. I am fairly sure that 12 time Ironman New Zealand champion Cameron Brown ran past us heading the other way but as he was going so fast it was hard to be sure. The Ironman is held in Taupo each March yearly and is a with a 3.8km swim 180km bike ride and a full 42.1 marathon at the end of all that I get exhausted just thinking about it.

If you think it’s hard to find a spot to camp now I would imagine it would be close to impossible around Ironman time with all the competitors, support crew and the 2000 volunteers that help with the race. It would however be a very exciting time to be here if you could find somewhere.

5 Mile Bay - DOC Camp

Proximity to Attractions

It's almost on the doorstep of all the attractions in Taupo with the cycleway at the front of the camp and the Parachuting right behind

Nearest Supplies/Town

Just a few kms up the road to either Countdown or Pak N Save but no shops right next door.

Ground Surface

Firm pumace gravel area mostly flat if you get there early enough.

Proximity to Water/Dump Station

Dump station 4 kms down the road but no water here make sure you fill up before arriving at the camp. There is water at the dump station in town by Countdown

Outlook from Camp

If you manage to grab a waterfront spot then wonderful views of the lake and mountain.

Noise during Day and Night

Surprisingly quiet during the night but a bit of a rumble during the day.

Cellphone Signal

A bit up and down on 2 degrees but mostly OK

Walking/Cycling Tracks

Great cycle track right at the front of the camp or more extreme tracks around the town.

Overall Rating:

A very busy place make sure you get there early otherwise you might miss out on a spot.

Once we had made it into town we decided to pop into the local supermarket and pick up a couple of things, being the idiot I can be I raced across the road rather than dismountingĀ  and as I slammed the rear tyre into the kerb gave myself a flat tyre. Even though we carry the self sealing repair kit we decided to see if one of the local bike shops could fix it.

We found Karen and Darrell at Central Plateau Cycles who after a little reluctance, as they were so busy, agreed to fix it if we could give them an hour or so. They kindly put Sarah’s bike into the office and this gave Sarah and I a chance to have a wander around the town without having to worry about the bikes. An hour later all fixed and back on the road.

On our return to the motorhome we noticed that the camping area had really started to fill up. We spent the remainder of the afternoon being entertained by people jumping out of planes either single or tandem sky diving. the airport is just behind the camp at 5 Mile Bay so if your are feeling adventurous go join them and throw yourself out of a perfectly good plane.

By the time the sun was going down people where driving round in circles trying to find somewhere to camp for the night that wasn’t hidden behind others or on an unlevel piece of ground. The searching became more desperate as the evening wore on.

Sunsets are always a special time of the day with the view from our front window a spectacular shade of red and orange, This is one of the things that I really love about motorhoming is finding spots like these and being treated to these views. I hate to say it but it wasn’t much more than 2 minutes after I took this shot through our front window that someone in a slider van came and parked in front of us, taking a space that wasn’t really there.

Even though State Highway 1 runs along beside the camp it was a quiet night with almost no traffic noise. The only real disturbance were the vehicles still looking for spaces to park right up till around 10.30pm somehow expecting a waterfront site to still be available.

With the toilet cassette in the motorhome only 17 litres Sarah and I do our best to empty it whenever possible (even though we have a spare) so if we do decide to stay somewhere for a period of time we have the maximum capacity. So we stopped at the very picturesque Two Mile Bay to use the dump station.

The dump station here is on a real slope so if like us you have your waste tank emptying on the left hand side it’s a real drama as there is no way it would drain using the hose, thankfully we have a spare bucket on board and mission accomplished. Sadly there is no water here with the nearest in Taupo at the dump station opposite Countdown shops. Why they cannot have one here I don’t know

Since we had been on the road for a few days we decided to take advantage of the local laundromat. Finding the Liquid Self Service in the travel directory. It’s well placed close to Countdown and other shops but far enough from the main road that there was still some parking. Although I don’t know that the locals would have been impressed with our motorhome as it stuck out onto the road slightly. Thankfully it’s a quiet road and we weren’t there long.

We had planned to head to Mystery Creek today, getting there on the Thursday and spending a bit of time wandering round the show. It was however a little early to drive straight through so we decided to visit the Craters of the Moon, a thermal area located next to the Wairaki golf course.

Neither Sarah or I can remember ever visiting here and if we had we probably wouldn’t have stopped here this day. The area is a large thermal hot spot full of steaming cliffs and areas of the ground where steam rises but it lacks the really active thermal things that you would see in Rotorua.

There are a couple of areas designated as mud pools but these seemed quite dried out and lacked activity. What was active was one vent in a sinkhole and another of the cliff edge that where both almost deafening with the sound of steam escaping. Interesting but not exciting. Still at $8 per adult for an entry fee it’s hard to say we felt ripped off, I guess you get what you pay for.

From here it was as I said off to the Motorhome Show at Mystery Creek and that’s where I am writing this. Seems like there are a million people and over 1000 motorhomes here so will have to work on a story about the place, Have met some really interesting people and will tell you all about this soon.

Just a small mention that this is my 100th blog posting and a year almost to the day since I started. I never imagined that I would have written this many posts over the past 12 months and if you have read them all (Dan and Mum) thanks for your support!!

To view the places we have visited click here to see them on Google maps. You can click the links to read the blog about that area.

To view the Ratings we have done for other camps click hereĀ 

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8 thoughts on “Camping In Taupo At 5 Mile Bay

  1. Congratulations on writing your 100th blog post. We find them well written and very interesting, and it I’d great to discover new places through your travels.
    Jenny and Robin,

  2. The $8 you paid to get into Craters of the Moon was put into place some years ago by the local Lions club after vehicles were being constantly ransacked there, due to lack of security. In those days, entry was free. This fee pays for car park security while you visit the area, and barely covers the costs of having volunteers there.

  3. Just to let you know that we are here on the South Coast of England surrounded by IronMan competitors. They get everywhere. All roads around here closed tomorrow (Sunday) until they’ve done there IronMan events.
    I don’t envy their swim across the bay, high winds, lashing rain & lot of surf.
    You grabbed a great spot to camp. Don’t overstay, you don’t want another ticket.

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