READER REPORT: If you were to give me the option between a week of camping, or glamping I would swiftly vote for the latter. Having tried both worlds it’s an easy choice. I say this from having grown up in the 1980s with a love of traditional camping.  I owned my first Kathmandu tent at 12 and pitched it up in our backyard for weeks in the summer.  

Back then, we were lucky to have a state house that featured a generous backyard with a forest at the end of it, making an outdoor tent an ideal addition.  

In my 20s I even signed up for 37 days of a Top Deck camping tour across Europe with one of my good friends. I wanted a shared experience, and back then, we could both afford tenting. We also talk about it years later. I have great memories of that time waking up in various camping grounds across Europe in the summer celebrating that we were both seeing so much of Europe at such a low cost.  

Fast-forward 20 years though, and I’m ready for a little luxury in my back to nature experience. Glamping offers this in a way camping can not. Glamping beats camping on so many fronts. It provides greater holiday certainty, genuine comfort, and a chance to rejuvenate in a green, luscious landscape without the hard work of old-style camping.

My family and I have experienced the highlights of glamping first-hand, having stayed at Te Horo Wetlands in the summer of 2022.

Set upon a stunning piece of rural land overlooking water, the giant canvas tent had a majestic and commanding presence on the landscape.

It was immediately apparent that while torrential rain and storm-like gales would see our small family in a traditional camp setting speedily retreat and head home, at this glamping site deteriorating weather would be a non-issue. The tent structure was a heavy-duty one like something built for a military camp in a war zone.

Helen MacDonald/Supplied

Why camp when you can glamp?

Comfort is the next big gain. Boasting two large bedrooms with inviting real beds and luxurious bedding, the tougher elements of camping in Europe, where I vividly recall long nights on uncomfortable and all too flat lilos, are now thankfully behind me.  

It just gets better too. With the presence of a fully equipped kitchen, and even a coffee machine, our family enjoyed bacon and eggs for breakfast each morning while seated at a welcoming dining table. Forget shared shower facilities at busy campsites. Our new holiday venue offered us a modern, private bathroom. 

If we weren’t already sold on the benefits of glamping over camping, then the wood fire heated hot tub pool would certainly push it into the lead. It became our family’s favourite hang out space.

Glamping, in my view, still brings us close to nature. A cold night outside equals an equally cold evening inside the tent as we soon discovered on our first night there. Our holiday spot was surrounded by rolling hills with sheep in sight. With no neighbouring houses visible, it felt like we were truly away from the busyness of our lives, and able to enjoy our time together as a family without distraction.  

There is something rejuvenating about being in nature surrounded by baaing sheep and other animals. That is simply good for the soul, and feels like a quiet meditation. The absence of any wi-fi connection, while a tough adjustment for our IT-obsessed family, ensured we were fully present to the stunning nature all around us.  

I’ll be honest though, and acknowledge my view was not fully shared by my then nine-year-old daughter, who felt our accommodation fell short on several fronts. The absence of wi-fi being the biggest downfall, along with there being no hairdryer or pegs for the washing line. She told me business people who provide accommodation should understand the needs of their customers and cater to them. 

All things considered, however, I am sure my daughter would still see it as a better option than an old-style tent, especially if she was tasked with helping pitch it.

Either way, if given the choice of a night in a traditional tent, I would decline in favour of glamping. I remember fondly the three nights the four of us sat on the deck taking turns to look at the stars through binoculars. It was a magical place that we talk about still.

I write this article as a mum, now well into my 40s with a young family who just loves easy options and comfort. My 19-year-old self may well have embraced a different view.

published 2023-06-24 11:55:38