Overnight in Pureora Forest Park

Overnight in Pureora Forest Park

Getting out camping is hands down the best part of our job at Kiwi Overland. Not only do we get to soak up Aotearoa's beauty, we get to meet awesome people and put our new gear to the test. And why do we do this? So we can share our experiences with you and ensure your next camping trip is hassle-free.

Our latest adventure took us to Pureora Forest Park, in the middle of the North Island. We spent the night under the stars at Ngaherenga Campsite, just a stone's throw from the popular Timber Trail. Our setup consisted of a couple of rooftop tents and a single swag. It was just the right fit for the location and an experience to remember. So here's what we learnt from this trip.



We hit the road early on a foggy Autumn morning, leaving Kiwi Camping HQ in Hamilton for Pureora Forest in the centre of the North Island. We mapped a route down through South Waikato District - roughly a two-hour drive. As usual, we needed to stop for last-minute supplies and coffee. Jackson, our Product Developer, and our videographer Brooke, swung by Mitre10 Cambridge for fire starters and kindling. Just as well, as we had new product to test and also anticipated a chilly overnight temp in the forest. We drove on to the small, rural township of Arapuni and made our first official stop at the Arapuni Suspension Bridge. We stretched our legs across the 152m-long, 97-year-old bridge, which tethered high above the Waikato River. The views were breathtaking.

Back in the Kiwi Camping utes we headed for our next stop at Mangakino. This charming town on the banks of the Waikato River was too good to pass up - especially on a good day - so we pulled up by the edge of Lake Maraetai, which was so calm on the day it looked like glass. We were all hungry by lunchtime and checked out the local Four Square and bakery for a bite. We then set off for the last 20 minutes of the trip which took us to the centre of the Island.

 Drone of Lake Maraetai, Managkino, April 2023

Drone of Lake Maraetai, Managkino, April 2023


We coasted down a long, gravel road with the windows down and immediately heard the sound of indigenous birdlife. The beautiful native forest is dense and vast, towered by giant Totara and Rimu. We continued further and found plenty of muddy puddles and rocky tracks off the main road, so we couldn't resist taking both Kiwi Camping utes for a quick off-road adventure.

Jackson attempted a steep hill climb with the Kiwi Camping trailer in tow. He was confident the trailer would clear. Brooke, sitting passenger side, was a little nervous.

We carried on further into the forest and followed a sign-posted beaten track. It was then a short 8-minute walk from the car, across a couple of boardwalks and through the forest. At the centre of the North Island stood a giant Totara tree.

 Drone of Pureora Forest Park, Link Road April 2023

Drone of Pureora Forest Park, Link Road April 2023


By 4pm we finally arrived at Ngaherenga Campsite, nestled on the fringe of the forest. The campsite was relatively empty, which gave us plenty of space to set up our gear. Our marketing guru Aleesha prepared the trusty Morepork Single Swag, which was raised off the ground and equipped with a EPE -5 sleeping bag. Jackson was trailing a new rooftop tent and diesel heater. Brooke chose the spacious Tuatara SSE for the night and Dan was in the Tuatara SSC. We then turned our attention to the firepit, another product to test and a welcome addition on a chilly autumn evening. But as we settled in our Kiwi Camping chairs and watched the sunset, the only thing on our minds was food.

Our Marketing Manager, Dan, is a pro on the BBQ. Using a wok, he cooked a delicious meal of nachos and tortillas on the Charmate Colt Bullet Smoker. Which meant that even though we were bush, we were in for a very tasty dinner.

With the fire roaring and the sun setting, we all relaxed with a well-deserved cold drink. The sounds of native birdlife surrounded us, orchestrated by the Kaka, Kokako, Kakariki and short-tailed bats. The sky stayed open and clear at nightfall and we were treated to an amazing show of shooting stars all night. It was definitely a camping experience to remember.

 Cooking on the Charmate Colt Bullet Smoker

Dinner on the Charmate Colt Bullet Smoker, April 2023


We hit the jackpot with an unbelievably clear night sky - the perfect setting for some epic stargazing. The sky was shining, glittered with stars. We all unbelievably caught a handful of shooting stars. It's hard to fully appreciate the beauty of the night sky until you're out in the middle of nowhere, away from the bright city lights.

If you're a stargazing enthusiast like us, you need to check out this campsite. The views are out of this world - pun intended! Brooke, was beyond stoked to test her night photography skills. The pictures she took were nothing short of stunning.

 Ngaherenga Campsite at Night, April 2023

Ngaherenga Campsite at Night, April 2023


The sun rose at 7am and so did we. We all slept well - warm and dry - in our -5 sleeping bags. It was a brisk start but we expected the day to warm. Dan jumped onto brekkie duties and sparked up the Gasmate stove. We had a big day ahead of content filming so we fulled up on hearty bacon and eggs. We spent most of the day filming our sleeping bag range, light accessories, roof top tents, bedding and swag comparison. We managed to wrap up by mid-afternoon and headed for the Timber Trial. Luckily, it was just a short drive away from our campsite.

We parked up, unloaded our bikes and headed into the forest off the gravel road. A Maori carving stood at the entrance of the trail and we peddled into the bush. And wow - the birdlife! We trailed past massive ancient trees and saw several species of native birds you just can't spot anywhere else. For all the cycling enthusiasts out there, we highly recommend adding the Timber Trail to your adventure list.

 Biking the Timber Trail, Pureora Forest Park, April 2023

Biking the Timber Trail, Pureora Forest Park, April 2023





Kiwi Overland Team Thoughts

 As our adventure drew to a close, we took some time to sit down and chat about our favourite moments and takeaways from the trip. We hope that by sharing our insights, it may help with your next adventure to Ngaherenga or elsewhere around our beautiful country:

Dan, Marketing Manager - sitting back at camp and seeing and hearing the abundance of kākā up in the trees was a real highlight for me.

Jackson, Product Development - all the activities we did, including the timber trail, walk out to the centre of the north island and the lookout.

Brooke, Photographer/ Videographer - Pureora Forrest gave us front row seats to watch an incredible show of shooting stars across the clear sky. It was simply stunning. We felt lucky to sit right beneath it all, away from the city lights.

Aleesha, Digital Marketing Coordinator - sitting around the fire pit and gazing up at the stars was beyond incredible; that's not something you see in the city. Getting out of the office was great, doing a bit of biking, walking, and off-roading. And there's nothing like finally sitting down for a hearty camp meal after a long day; that's awesome.


Our team had some pretty amazing experiences during our time at Ngaherenga. From the stunning views of the night sky to the incredible wildlife and epic bike trails, there was something for everyone. And we definitely picked up some valuable lessons along the way, too - like the importance of having quality gear, planning ahead, and staying flexible.


So, if you're looking for a new adventure and considering a trip to Ngaherenga, go for it! And don't hesitate to reach out to the Kiwi Camping team if you need any tips or recommendations - we'd love to help make your trip as memorable as ours.

1 comment

Have hunted this area a couple of times in the late 80’s. Such a special place. Will add to the list of camping spots to visit with our new kiwi camping gear.

Paul Neal

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