Sometimes you just need a hot bath beneath a star-drenched sky.
According to the predominantly trusty source of all trivia, Wikipedia, the word 'glamping' was born in the United Kingdom in 2005. In March 2007, the word started showing up on worldwide Google searches, reaching peak search popularity in July 2016 after being bestowed the honour of becoming an official (playable-in-Scrabble) word according to the Oxford dictionary. The dictionary defines it as a "form of camping involving accommodation and facilities more luxurious than those associated with traditional camping". The word itself is a portmanteau of glamourous and camping.
Which is sometimes exactly what you need – a combination of a hot bath while gazing at a star-drenched sky; an escape to the wild, without any of the effort and niggly parts – or virtually all of them anyway. Below are some of the best glamping experiences near Auckland.
Lining the water's edge of a small, private island in the Coromandel Peninsula is the best luxury glamping escape near Auckland. Step out from your tent and into a kayak or straight into the ocean for some snorkelling. Or just take it easy and wander around on foot, pretending you own the island. Each tent comes with its own ensuite toilet, basin and shower while the Slipper Island Lodge can be used for communal cooking.
The Round Tent is a Mongolian-style yurt, which is located just under ten minutes from Raglan, is decked out in decidedly more luxe fittings than its inspiration. A plush queen bed, generous deck, fire pit and modern kitchen and bathroom make for a very glamorous, but perhaps only tentatively defined as camping, stay – which is why we could only give it a second place on our list.
While the area is best known for its neighbouring Poor Knights Islands, rated by ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau as one of the top ten dive sites in the world, Tutukaka Coast has plenty more to offer including secluded beaches, decent surf and a glamping stay at Maunga Iti. Surrounded by beautiful native forest and with a patch of blue ocean lining the horizon, the luxury tent offers an outdoor bath with complimentary, unabridged views of the star-studded sky. A kitchen and outdoor cooking area makes it an idyllic escape best enjoyed over a handful of days.
An escape from the day-in day-out is just under an hour's drive from the Auckland CBD and a short bush walk away. Castaways' Totara Tree Glam Camp is your very own, very romantic, very adult treehouse set up between two sturdy totara trees. A bottle of wine upon arrival, a luxury dinner and breakfast package (with cooking instructions) and an adventurous soak in their suspended outdoor bath are all complimentary additions to the stay.
Highfield Forest is very much a camping experience for those uninitiated who are still testing the waters of camping – the site features both a luxury tent and an old kauri hut where you'll find the kitchen and extra space for extra humans on your trip. An outdoor bath is also included.
Because New Zealand, there is a legitimate hobbit-like house in which you can glamp. We know, we know, it's very much a borderline case of glamping given Underhill's permanent structure, but the list couldn't do without it. Also, there's an outdoor bath too, which is basically glamping's calling card. Make some time to visit Waitomo's magical glowworm caves while you're in the area, it's worth it.
Waikato (directions are provided pre-arrival via email)
While Raglan is mostly known for its glamping yurts, Solscape provides an excellent, low-impact tipi glamping experience with solar powered lighting and showers, an earth oven pizza and open air kitchen for cooking and composting toilets – which is a nice way to offset your carbon footprint making the drive all the way down to Raglan.
Just under a ten-minute walk from Oneroa Village and Little Oneroa Beach on Waiheke Island is a beautiful lotus belle tent retreat surrounded by nature at Fossil Bay Lodge. An external ensuite is included as well as a comfy double bed. Book well in advance, as a night's sleep here is super popular.