Map: NZ's best places to pitch a tent

HOT SPOT: Ohiwa Family Holiday park, a unique beach and harbour location
HOT SPOT: Ohiwa Family Holiday park, a unique beach and harbour location

Ah, camping - moving out of the house for a week or two and living simply, enjoying the sun, the water and the bush, sometimes even eating fish caught just hours earlier.

New Zealand is blessed with a myriad of fine places to pitch a tent, tow a caravan, or drive a motorhome. We're creating a map of our readers' picks for the best camping grounds in our country. You can view the interactive map below.

To get started, we've picked 10 awesome spots, in order from north to south - you can see the interactive map below. They are all fun places to stay, offering a range of different attractions. There are plenty of other good spots. This is just a way to whet the appetite. 

To send us your favourite camping spot, click the ''contribute' button below the map. Make sure you send us a photo and a story about why it's such a great place.

Wagener Holiday Park, on the southern side of the entrance to Houhora Harbour: On the east coast of the finger of land at the top of the North Island, Houhora Heads is about 75 kilometres south of Cape Reinga.

The area can be great for fishing, even from the shore, while a small boat is all that is needed to get to some good spots. Shellfish are also plentiful in the harbour or on the nearby coastal beach.

Good day trips include a visit to Cape Reinga, which can be done on a bus tour. In this narrow northern extremity, Ninety Mile Beach on the west coast is not far away and is fun to get to by bike or horseback.

Wagener is a holiday spot with a great tradition behind it. Some facilities may be basic but the location is magnificent.

Whangaruru Beachfront Camp at Parutahi Bay, just inside the Whangaruru Harbour entrance: On the east coast south of the Bay of Islands, closer to the rest of the country than Houhora. It still feels well separated from urban life but is only about a 45-minute drive from Whangarei.

The harbour is great for boating, fishing and water sports. Its many isolated bays are great fun to explore. Nearby outside the harbour, Oakura Bay has a popular 1km-long sandy beach. It is sheltered by several islands, so swimming is generally safe for all ages.

Waikawau Bay campsite on the eastern side of the Coromandel Peninsula near the northern tip: Leave the fleshpots of Pauanui and Whangamata behind. For an experience of the Coromandel Peninsula more like it was before the hordes invaded head north to Waikawau Bay.

One of five Department of Conservation campsites at the north of the peninsula, Waikawau Bay is about 27km from Coromandel township. Getting to it does require a small amount of driving on a narrow, winding, unsealed road.

The spectacular beach and the chance to really throw off the shroud of nine-to-five life more than makes up for any minor discomfort caused by the trip and the simple facilities at the campsite.

The area has good fishing, diving and boating, while the campsite is also the entrance point for the Matamataharakeke Track, part of the original Waikawau to Kennedy Bay route used by goldminers and loggers. It has great views over bush-covered hills to the coast and islands.

Ohiwa Beach Holiday Park, west of Opotiki near the mouth of Ohiwa Harbour: A great place to enjoy the Bay of Plenty's warmth and long hours of sunshine.

Snapper can be caught off the beach, while there are trout in the surrounding back country. Holidaymakers can also have fun boogie boarding and body surfing.

Next to the park is a bush walk that leads to a glow-worm grotto, and the endangered New Zealand dotterel and rare oystercatcher make their homes on the beach.

Several walking tracks are close by and the camping ground is not far from the Motu Trails cycle trails which travel through dunes and bush, with rides suitable for nearly all levels of skill and fitness.

Kawhia Beachside S-Cape about 600 metres from Kawhia township and the wharf area: Kawhia offers a west coast experience but with forested dunes providing shelter from the sometimes wild Tasman Sea.

It feels and looks like it has barely changed from the middle of last century, despite its enviable location beside the placid 6000 hectare harbour. When the tide goes out the area covered by water is considerably smaller but that just means it is time to gather pipi, oysters, mussels and cockles.

Fishing charters are available for those who want to venture out into the open ocean.

The houses are old, as are the beautiful gardens. The town has a great fish and chips shop and a couple of arts and craft galleries with work by local residents.

Hot Water Beach campsite on Lake Tarawera: A DOC facility, with the added challenge that it is only accessible by boat and there are limited lakeshore mooring posts.

Commercial operators will take visitors to the campsite at Te Rata Bay on the south shores of Lake Tarawera, near the Waimangu Volcanic Valley.

The camping ground has only 30 tent sites and is extremely popular, so much so that in 2013 DOC introduced a requirement that sites had to be booked and paid for before campers arrived. The aim was to reduce the pressure on space, facilities and the environment.

As the area's name suggests, the area has natural hot springs under the sand which provide a relaxing warm swim. DOC does warn that some areas of sand are "very hot".

Mahia Beach Motels and Holiday Park: The Mahia Peninsula is an intriguing piece of geography at the northern tip of Hawke's Bay.

Popular for surfing, fishing and diving, the peninsula's two coastlines can have quite different moods. If the sea is rough on the Napier side, it can be calm on the Gisborne side - or the other way round.

The coastline has many small bays, good for exploring and having picnics, and the shellfish are good at low tide.

Nearby attractions include the Mangaone Caves, which can be reached along a short DOC track which has great views of the coast. Wooden steps lead to the main cavern.

A little further on the Morere Hot Springs have hot and cold pools in forest surroundings.

Pelorus Bridge camping ground, on State Highway 6 between Nelson and Blenheim: The top of the South Island offers a wide range of holiday options from the coast to the more protected Marlborough Sounds, or inland to the lakes or Molesworth Station.

The DOC camping ground at Pelorus Bridge is surrounded by forest and borders the beautiful Pelorus River.

Swimming, kayaking, canoeing, picnicking and fishing are popular and there are a variety of short walks in the Pelorus Scenic Reserve.

With only 37 tent sites and 14 powered sites, bookings are essential over holidays and long weekends, and DOC recommends it at other times.

Kaikoura Peketa Beach Holiday Park, on SH1 7km south of Kaikoura: On the main road and right by the beach, yet with all the space and peace summer holidaymakers could want, and mountain views.

The area has a great abundance of sea life, and activities include diving, surfing, fishing, and whale, seal, dolphin and coastal bird watching.

For those with small boats there is good deep sea fishing close to shore, while salmon can be caught off the beach.

Then there are the crayfish, maybe not as many as there were in the past, but Kaikoura is still the place to catch these delicacies, and cook them not too long afterwards.

Glendhu Bay Lakeside Holiday Park, at the south end of Lake Wanaka: Beside a beautiful blue lake surrounded by towering peaks, and just a 10-minute drive from Wanaka, this is a great place for a southern break.

It provides a base for boating, kayaking, trout fishing, and various other water-based activities.

Among the many options on land are hiking, mountain biking, horse trekking, and rock climbing.

Wanaka is also one of the closest towns to Mt Aspiring National Park, with its remote wilderness, high mountains and river valleys.