Campsite review: Cascade Creek DOC campsite, Fjordland

There are quite a few campgrounds in the Fjordland region, most of which are along the long stretch of Milford Road before the start of the mountains. Camping on one of these sites is a great way to break up a road trip to Milford Sound while staying in a very remote area and enjoying stunning landscapes around you. It’s also great for the budget conscious, as camping on one of the 12 campsites run by the Department of Conservation (DOC) only sets you back $5-7 NZD per person per night. To put it in kiwi terms, it’s sweet as!

Cascade Creek campsite, Fjordland

Cascade Creek campsite, Fjordland

I stayed at Cascade Creek DOC campsite for a few nights and had a great experience. The campsite sits at the southern end of Lake Gunn in Fjordland National Park and has space for about 20 tents and campervans, according to the brochure. Access is easy, via a short bit of gravel road just off Milford Road, and about a 1.5h, very scenic drive from Te Anau.

Activities

Most campers use this site as a one-night stopover during their trip to Milford. The campsite is therefore more of a transient place, and not a location where a lot of people pitch their tents and stay for a few days, although you comfortably could if you wanted to do so and didn’t mind the coming and going in the evenings/mornings. Lake Gunn is a peaceful and very quiet place where you can fish from the shore or a small, non-motorised boat (which you’d have to bring yourself). You can also fly-fish in Cascade Creek. There’s also a nature walk through beech forest that leads to the lake’s shore. It is an easy loop track that can be walked comfortably in under an hour. There are information panels along the track, explaining about the birdlife in the Eglington Valley.

If you go fishing, make sure you are informed about didymo, a water pest that has destroyed the natural balance of streams, rivers and lakes in New Zealand. Any of your equipment that gets in touch with infected water, whether your shoes, bucket or fishing rod, needs to be checked, cleaned and dried before being used in another waterway. You can read more about didymo and how to disinfect your fishing gear over at Biosecurity New Zealand.

Cascade Creek

Cascade Creek

Campsite options

If you want to camp at Lake Gunn, you have the option of Cascade Creek, to the south of the lake, or the campsite named Lake Gunn to the north of the lake, directly on the lake’s shore. My recommendation is to use Cascade Creek, especially if you’ve got a larger vehicle or want to pitch your tent on grass or softer ground, as the Lake Gunn campsite is really small, not suitable for larger vehicles and is quite stoney. On the positive side, Lake Gunn’s northern campsite does sit right on the stoney shore of the lake.

Lake Gunn

Lake Gunn

Summary:

  • Type: Standard
  • Fee: $5 per person per night
  • Location: Off Milford Road (SH 94), at the end of Lake Gunn, Fjordland.
  • Facilities: long-drop toilets; picnic tables; water from stream; BBQ.
  • Notes: Take plenty of insect repellant – the sandflies are fierce!

For more information on Department of Conservation campsites in New Zealand, read my introduction to DOC campsites.

Other DOC campsite reviews:

Lake Hawea, Kidds Bush campsite
Tongariro National Park, Mangahuia campsite
Moke Lake campsite
Mavora Lakes campsite
Kinloch, Otago

Christina Hegele

About the author: Christina Hegele runs Sandal Road, a blog on her favourite destinations. It just so happened that 95% turned out to be about New Zealand. Follow Christina and her blog on Twitter, like her blog on Facebook, and subscribe to her Youtube channel. Alternatively, subscribe to her email newsletter at the top right of this blog.

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  12 comments for “Campsite review: Cascade Creek DOC campsite, Fjordland

  1. 15 September, 2011 at 14:33

    Really like the symmetry of the Lake Gunn photo – gorgeous pic! The DOC is such a great Kiwi institution, isn’t it? Have you tried some of the huts or lodges as well?

    • Christina
      15 September, 2011 at 17:40

      Thank you, Sophie! I love the Department of Conservation. Their campgrounds are amazing, and so are the huts!

  2. 15 September, 2011 at 14:58

    Beautiful photos, I love how remote it is.

  3. 15 September, 2011 at 15:00

    I’m going camping this weekend but it’s not going to be anywhere near as scenic as this location. I’m jealous!

  4. 15 September, 2011 at 16:29

    gorgeous!! would love to go camping up there!

  5. 15 September, 2011 at 22:00

    I went to New Zealand 5 years ago and went ton a day trip in Milford and I remember as we were driving in I was so disappointed I wasn’t staying longer.

  6. 15 September, 2011 at 22:34

    That is such a pretty picture. You can’t go wrong with $5!!

    • Christina
      24 December, 2011 at 16:49

      Exactly. The value for money equation is great at DOC campsites!

  7. 17 September, 2011 at 17:11

    Your pictures are real teasers. You have some cool information too.

    • Christina
      24 December, 2011 at 16:48

      Thanks Sailor! Glad the pictures are tempting you. New Zealand’s waiting for your visit 😀

  8. 23 December, 2011 at 09:35

    I really liked the DOC camping grounds in NZ. Simple, but pretty often at fab spots!

    • Christina
      24 December, 2011 at 16:48

      Totally agree, Melvin. I’ve actually never stayed at a “serviced” DOC campsite, only at basic and standard ones, but despite their lack of commercial campground facilities, they are my campgrounds of choice as they’re in the best spots and you feel a lot closer to nature (also because there is nothing else!)

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