Things I've seen, Travel
Comments 26

Off The Grid


The rugged West Coast

Without sounding spoilt, The Koala and I love to have long holiday outside of New Zealand once a year. But over the last few years, we have not left New Zealand, instead we have taken small holidays within New Zealand. I still yearn for foreign lands for new perspective and culinary delights, but there are world-class destinations within an hour from home.

This is a story about one of them.


Our private view

Hidden in the remote hills behind Waiuku on the southernmost west tip of Auckland, is a secluded glamping gem. For the uninitiated, glamping is short for glamorous camping. Will and Kate (of the royal variety) went glamping in Uluru, Australia this week, so I think it is fair to say that glamping has reached the mainstream.


Happy 5 year anniversary!

The Koala and I stayed at Castaway’s glamping last Friday to celebrate our 5 year wedding anniversary. Expensive for camping, inexpensive for luxury, glamping is a careful balance. Our stay was paid for in full with real cash so this is an honest review, not an advertisement. Saying that, I must warn you I may get gushy…


The Setup

A 10 minute golf buggy ride takes you through rolling hills, past 170 woolly ladies and the track ends at a sweet spot overlooking the vast black sands of the rugged Karioitahi Beach.


A curious woolly lady



Thank you for sharing your space with us

Karioitahi is surprisingly bare. Unlike other Auckland beaches, no million dollar mansions or beach houses mar the landscape. It’s refreshing.


The wide black sands of Kahioitahi

4 metres wide and 6 metres long, our studio for the night had everything you might want except for cellphone coverage, wi-fi or TV. Good. With solar power and gas, this is the ideal haven to escape from the world.


The Koala goes glamping


Genie goes glamping

Amenities include:

  • Gas barbecue
  • Refrigerator
  • Espresso maker
  • Microwave
  • Car stereo with speakers mounted around the bed

A view for two

The whole place is set up for two people. A ridiculous number of pillows, luxuriously thick robes, more plush white towels than we required and matching white slippers and thick shag carpet made us feel like hotel guests.


A comfy king bed with plenty of pillows and blankets wall mounted speakers for added fun

A kitchen sink and a king size bed, an ensuite with composting toilet, sink and powerful shower complete the picture. The doors do not lock and there is a clear PVC zipper “tent” door so that you can enjoy the view while keeping the elements and creepy crawlies at bay.


The view from the bed

There is spot lighting for different areas of the studio and air conditioning and central heating. There is plenty of seating, 6 chairs in total plus 2 hammocks, depending on if you want to dine, or enjoy the view outside, lounge or just sit inside.


Cape Cod chairs

Views can be seen from the bed, the kitchen, the BBQ…everywhere but the bathroom. They even provide toothbrushes so really, you need only to bring yourselves.


Trees, hammocks, and bath tub

The highlight must be the generous peanut-shaped 2 person bath tub overlooking Karioitahi. Fill the tub with hot water for 12 minutes, then adjust with cold water to your preference. Bring the wine or beer (or both) and watch the sunset over the Wild West Coast.


Tub with a view


The Eats

All food is included. By this you really are welcome to eat EVERYTHING.


Breakfast with a view. Fried eggs, 3 x bacon, herb mushroom, grilled tomato, 2 x kransky and juice (toast not pictured). Followed by a food induced coma.

There was more food than we could eat including:

  • 3 course meal
  • Chocolates
  • Biscuits
  • A bowl of fruit
  • A huge breakfast
  • Muesli and yogurt
  • 1 litre milk
  • 1 litre fruit juice
  • 2 cans of soda
  • Wine
  • Beer
  • Tea, coffee, hot chocolate

The meals were prepared ahead of time and each part portioned into tupperware containers with instructions for reheating or barbecuing. It was very clear and very easy to follow. Like most New Zealand men (and I’m sure in other countries too) The Koala takes charge of barbecuing so he ended up doing most of the cooking. Lucky me! Our choice from steak, salmon or chicken was made at time of booking, but everything else runs to a standard script. I’m sure if you had more in-depth dietary requirements, Castaways would be happy to oblige.


The sea through the trees

The Trees

I have been craving trees for a while now. Walking through a forest makes me energised and happy and here we had our very own private woods to roam. Soft underfoot, with many years of undisturbed pine needles, it was like nature’s shagpile.


I love the trees!


Pine and needles

The air here is sweet and clear and sound is muted. We explored the woods twice, the second time we found a second and then third glamping site being built. This place will not be the same sharing this space with other couples, even if they are on the other side of the woods.


Upcoming site


…and another on the hill

Off The Grid

We loved that the nearest people were 10 minutes away at the resort. There is no room service, no one comes to check in on you. Complete isolation. If you have an emergency, cellphone reception is up the hill. How far? I don’t know, we had no emergencies.


Tree stump tripod…selfie fail

As inner city dwellers, complete isolation doesn’t happen. In fact, I don’t think this “off the grid” has ever happened to me. When we visit our country-dwelling friends, they have wi-fi.


Act natural


Rugged landscape

You Need To Do This

I highly recommend this Castaways Glamping for anniversaries, honeymooners or romantic getaways. Visit before the other sites are completed to get your slice of pure “Wild West” seclusion. Only an hour drive from Auckland central, it’s not far to pure secluded bliss with all the luxuries you could want. A great way to see New Zealand.

This was an unforgettable experience for both of us. I have caught the glamping bug and I’m already looking at the other sites wondering what excuse I can make to justify our next glamping experience.


NZ flax

Castaways Glamping

  • 1 night experience $430NZ per couple
  • 2 night experience $760NZ per couple

For more information including bookies, visit the Castaways Glamping information page.

This site is part of the Canopy Camping network. There are currently six glamping sites in their network with a further three more in the pipeline.


Toi Toi over Karioitahi Beach



  1. I’ve been to Kariotahi once for a wedding and it was beautiful. Didn’t get to see too much of it though. Looks so lovely in your photos! Now with bubs, hubby and I have decided to do more trips within NZ now too. We’re going to Queenstown soon and I’m really looking forward to it!

    • I haven’t been to Queenstown as an adult but we drove from Christchurch to Wanaka (via Tekapo and Hawea) and back over Labour weekend last year. Such gorgeous scenery around there, very different from Auckland. I can see what the tourists are raving on about 🙂 Have a great time in Queenstown. I hear there is some VERY good eating that way too.

  2. Aaahh!! I love that you guys did this!! Although I’ve never been off the beaten path, what a perfect getaway!!
    Was it super quiet at night? Were you able to swim? Happy belated anniversary!!

    • Hi Dana, it’s now too cold to swim and the west coast is really wild so not advisable unless you are built like a surfer.

      I was perfectly happy the outdoor tub. We had a bit of weather that night so we could hear the wind and rain up on the cliff but at least we never worried that our shelter would blow away!

  3. Looks like it was so much fun! I went to New Zealand years ago and I miss seeing all the sheep haha. Love the picture of you among the trees. (:

  4. Wow! This looks incredible and makes me a little bit homesick. Would love to do this trip. Thanks for sharing, really enjoyed this post 🙂

  5. Brynne says

    I have to find something like this in Texas. It looks lovely, refreshing, fantastic…

    • I was curious so I had a little look on your behalf. There are lots of romantic glamping spots in Texas! I’m sure Texas is a big place so hopefully there is one close to you.

  6. This sounds like something I could do! We actually have a composting toilet (low water) at our cottage and love it! Your experience sounds amazing; you and the Koala are a very lovely couple. Happy Anniversary! I’m super glad your illness has not slowed you down. I’m thinking of you.
    I have to ask, who took care of Tofu?

    • Hi Eva, when we go away for 1 night, we leave Tofu inside with enough food and water for the night. Should anything happen to us, hopefully our friends and neighbours would come to the rescue!

      We haven’t designated godparents for him though.

      My illness has not slowed me down, but this glamping holiday was a great way to mandate slowing down.

  7. Wow! Lovely photographs and super article about Castaways and glamping. Thanks so much for such a lovely write-up.

    Can I suggest a South Island glamping trip for your next anniversary?? Hurunui Jacks is the ultimate romantic retreat – and a lovely contrast to Castaways. Pencil it in! 🙂

  8. That looks absolutely amazing…and Happy Anniversary! I’ve never camped in my life (my choice) but I could definitely glamp. I’m going to look for something closer to home 😉

  9. What a truly amazing place and a great way to spend your anniversary! (Happy Anniversary! BTW) I think sometimes we all need a holiday like that, going completely off the grid! The censer is so lovely and amazing, I just wish it wasn’t so far from me 😦 Maybe one say I will visit New Zealand! 🙂


  10. Holy shitballs, that looks like perfection. I literally made a sound outloud when I saw the tub sunken into the hill with the patio lights around it. My idea of heaven, for real. Makes me miss kiwi-land hardcore. Maybe I’ll get rich and we can come back. Happy Anniversay, you two are adorable in that painful, want to squish kind of way!

  11. Omgosh I totally want to try this!!! But I’m skeptical on the fact that the door of the cabin can’t be locked (I’m paranoid). Anyway, happy anniversary!!!! 🙂

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