How To Build An Overnight Bushcraft Camp

How To Build An Overnight Bushcraft Camp

Learn how to build an overnight bushcraft camp with this DIY survival tutorial. In today’s video, you’ll learn how to build a bushcraft shelter from scratch. But first, let’s talk a little bit about what bushcraft is.

At its core, bushcraft is about being one with nature. Man has always used natural resources to his advantage; however, it’s important not to take it too far. This can be a difficult line to toe, but it’s very important that we, as survivalists and outdoorsmen, have respect for nature and do our best to leave it at least as good as we found it.

Bushcraft itself can be quite simply explained as the skills needed to enable you to survive, live, and thrive in a wilderness environment. Generally, without any modern amenities, these skills can only be gained through knowledge and real-life wilderness experience.

Here we will teach you more about what bushcraft is, plus some tips and techniques on how to build an overnight bushcraft camp!

Build an Overnight Bushcraft Camp and Survive the Night!


1. Pick a Location

Location is everything when building a bushcraft camp for your comfort and safety. The ideal location will have to be even and flat, and far from possible hazards like falling rocks and dead trees. Avoid loose ground ledges and set up camp as far from the water’s edge as possible to avoid flooding hazards. An area with a good vantage point will also be ideal, and a morning shade, a bonus.

2. Consider the Wind Direction

If you’ve been camping for a long time, you are probably familiar with the prevailing wind of the area. This wind rose resources from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will also help. The idea is to build your overnight bushcraft camp shelter opposite of the prevailing wind. Based on experience, this helps prevent rain from blowing in your shelter and for ventilation. But, this is also situational and you may choose to be weird about this and have it your way. I like my camp entrance facing the rising sun so I can wake up to it. After all, your own experience will be your best teacher.

3. Collect Materials

Now that you’ve decided where to set up camp, collect materials in the area. Collect anything with potential use around camp for your shelter, a fire shelter, and for starting a fire. Fallen trees, debris, leaves, twigs, and barks are valuable bushcraft camp materials. You might want to employ your botany 101 to avoid poisonous plants like poison ivy.

Check out this: 10 Critical Points You Need To Know About Building Any Natural Shelter!

4. Make a Rope

Ropes are essential when building a shelter and for other survival uses like tying things up or for first aid. It’s a good thing, you will not run out of fibrous materials to make some sort of rope wherever you are. If you find yourself in the desert, you can make rope out of the yucca plant. The barks of trees like cedar are wonderful sources of rope out in the forest. The following are plants from which you can make a rope:

5. Know Your Knots and Lashing Techniques

A basic know-how of the essential knots is given in survivalists. It will do for building a bushcraft camp but you also have to consider the type of knot used when building a shelter. Besides the knots, how to tie pieces together is another important skill you need in bushcraft camping.

Lashing or ropework is important if you don’t want your makeshift roof crashing down on you in the dead of the night. When doing the lean-to design, a square lashing is ideal when you are using trees as support for your shelter.

6. Make a Fire Shelter

Survivalist or not, we need not elaborate on how fire is essential for survival. Fire provides clean water, food, warmth, and defense from wild animals, and so much more. Yet, keeping a fire protected and going can be the least of all concerns, especially for inexperienced campers.

Building a fire can be tough even for survival experts. Keeping it going, especially in the rain is even more challenging. It can be frustrating to see the fire you labored on put out by rain. It is even a smart idea to build a fire shelter first before you start a fire, especially in areas where precipitation is highly likely.

7. More Tips for Building an Overnight Bushcraft Camp

When building a bushcraft camp, the design or style seems of little importance, but remember, a bushcraft camp does not allow you the luxury of amenities. You will have to rely on the environment and what it has to offer. Consider these 5 bushcraft shelter designs when building a bushcraft camp:

You also want to consider these tips: How To Build A Shelter Using Natural Resources!


Want to give bushcraft a try? Check out the video below to learn how to build an overnight bushcraft camp:

Bushcraft is not simply all about how to survive in the wilderness–it goes far beyond that. It is also, if not more, about creating sustainability and being able to live comfortably within a natural environment, and being able to live your life by being part of our natural world using a more indigenous human approach. Using these skills to live off the land is one of the most satisfying things you can do, both physically and mentally. The connection you get back from nature is hard to compare with anything modern life can offer. These skills take time and effort to learn, but all are learn-able, for everyone, regardless of age.

What would you add yourself to this guide for building an overnight bushcraft camp? We will appreciate your tips and suggestions in the comments section below!

Up Next: 7 Cost-Effective Uses For Shipping Containers Survivalists Should Know

For awesome survival gear, you can’t make at home, check out the Survival Life Store!

Check out Is Dutch Oven Cooking A Part Of Your Emergency Plan? [Video Tutorial] at

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on February 5, 2016, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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8 Reasons To Go Guided When Overnight Hiking in New Zealand

8 Reasons To Go Guided When Overnight Hiking in New Zealand

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5 hikers in colourful gear walk a flat track along a valley surrounded by snowcapped hills.
Hiking up Siberia Valley in Mt Aspiring National Park

The team here at Active Adventures are an outdoorsy bunch. Every weekend you’ll find a handful of us out there in the hills, or on the rivers, getting stuck in to New Zealand in all its natural beauty. One of our favourite ways to spend a long weekend is by grabbing a backpack, packing a toothbrush, a cooker, a few meals, and a sleeping bag, and heading for one of the 950 huts dotted all over the country. Here we’ll talk about spending time in the backcountry on overnight ‘missions’ and offer some advice on how best to tackle the great New Zealand outdoors!

A backcountry hut sits in a basin next to a large alpine lake.
Angelus Hut on the edge of Lake Angelus in Nelson Lakes National Park

Background on New Zealand’s backcountry

As kiwis, we are lucky enough to have some of the best walking in the world, in our backyards. New Zealand has hundreds of trails, amongst vast mountains, rainforests, coastline, glacial valleys, and volcanoes. Even better than that, is that those trails, and (most of) the 950 huts that serve them, are maintained by the Department of Conservation, DoC. The huts started appearing in the 1800s, and were initially a network of shelters for hunters overnighting in the hills. Today they’ve become a big contributor to tourism in New Zealand, and a part of our national identity. For us the most unique thing about hiking in New Zealand is the variety of landscapes you can immerse yourself in. That’s why we love getting out there, because every time (and every hut!) is different.

A person lays back above a glacial valley enjoying the view.
Taking a moment for reflection on the stunning Milford Track

Few people who think of New Zealand do so without thinking of Milford Sound. It’s one of the things that put this country on the map, we don’t deny it. And it is absolutely stunning in its scale, and its untouched nature. The Milford Track is one of New Zealand’s nine Great Walks – walks of stunning natural beauty, maintained by DoC, and taking in the most impressive scenery in the country. But the Great Walks are not the only walks worth doing when you get here! There are quite literally hundreds of multiday walks here, and between us, we’ve probably knocked off most of them!

Learn More About Multiday Hikes

Why are we so addicted to getting out there?

We’d describe our love for multiday adventures in the hills as natural, and an essential part of growing up, and living in New Zealand. Being able to get away from traffic noise, light pollution, even cell reception, in a matter of minutes from home, is a special privilege, and not one we waste. There’s something primitive about arriving at a hut under your own steam, after a tough day, and being greeted by a log fire, smiles, and a cosy bunk. When you’re in a backcountry hut, sharing the experience, and stories, with others, you’re living in the moment; the last thing you’ll worry about is work, or bills. Instead you’ll be worrying about who’s taking up the most boot space around the fire, or who’s next in line at the sink to wash their dishes. It’s a special experience, and it’s made special, in part, by the sense of achievement, but so much more than this by those you share it with.

Two pairs of boots dry on a fence at the head of a valley.
Hiking Boots drying out at Siberia Hut in Mt Aspiring National Park.

And guess what! Aside from the warm fuzzy feeling that multiday hiking gives you, there’s also a whole heap of health benefits, and not all of them are physical! Maybe that’s why people say us kiwis are such a friendly bunch?!

Benefits of going guided

Over the years our guides have learned a few tricks when it comes to overnight hiking. And we know how valuable local knowledge is. When you’re on the trail you’ll want all sorts of information about the area you’re hiking in, its history, the plants, birds, even the elevation changes for each day – your guides can share that with you. And that kind of knowledge adds so much to an experience in the backcountry. They’ll also share a few secrets to having a successful trip, the kind of things you didn’t know you needed to know, or to pack. They’ll take you to the best viewpoints for the perfect photo, and tell you how to make your own pillow – no need to pack one. All you have to do is turn your sleeping bag stuff bag inside out, and fill it with your spare clothes. Now you can rest easy!

A group of hikers and their guide stand on a ridgeline.
Guide Andy, and his group of adventurers on Robert’s Ridge in Nelson Lakes National Park.

Our guides have comprehensive training in all sorts of areas, some of which we hope they’ll never need. They’re trained in outdoor first aid, efficient radio communications, and river crossing techniques, to name a few. And they’re also backed up by an awesome Operations Team here at Active HQ. The team is always just a phone call away, anytime day or night.

Two hikers on the trail, a river running beside, and a small aircraft flying overhead.
To hike in Siberia Valley you’ll need to catch a plane in!

Everyone’s number one priority in the outdoors is safety, especially on multiday hikes. Because of its separation from other large land masses, New Zealand gets some very interesting weather. Add that to the geography of the country, and particularly the South Island, with the Southern Alps dictating weather patterns as they do, and we end up with very changeable conditions. Our local guides have spent their lives amongst those conditions, and are always prepared for four seasons in one day. They’ll approach every hike with a plan A, a plan B, and often a plan C. Rivers can change course, or rise rapidly, groups can be super keen and want to hike further, or struggling, and need to do less, or rest more often. A guide is ready for anything, they’ve seen it all before, they’ll react calmly, and smoothly, and ensure you’re comfortable and safe.

Panoramic shot of glacial lake, icebergs floating, and a group sitting on the shore.
Icebergs floating in Crucible Lake in Mt Aspiring National Park. The kind of place you wouldn’t know to visit without a guide!

Our guides are also logistical magicians, and they work in pairs. You’ll hop off the bus for a hike from A, and the bus will pick you up at B just as you arrive off the trail, or back at civilisation from the hills. They’ll also give you some advice on the best way to ensure you get a comfy bed when you arrive at each hut – if it’s not pre booked. Your guides will carry the little extras, like bug repellent, hand sanitizer, and candles too. They’ve spent heaps of time in the hills, they know exactly what you need for a perfect trip. And to top it all off, they’re masters of the backcountry cooker! You’ll be fed delicious, nutritious meals after a day’s hiking, and wake up ready to go again.

 Why go guided recap

  1. Knowledge of flora, fauna, mountains, rivers, and viewpoints.
  2. Tricks of the trade e.g how to pack your bag, or make a pillow.
  3. Comprehensive safety training.
  4. Backed up by an Operations Team.
  5. Experience of the conditions – plan Bs+Cs in place.
  6. Logistics – arranging transport, organising beds, putting up tents.
  7. Providing the small things that are easily forgotten – bug repellent, hand sanitizer etc.
  8. Excellent cooks.

We’d advise…

So if you’re itching to head out into the hills, and see what the real New Zealand is all about, we reckon your best bet is to do so with a local guide. The best advice we can give you though, is to embrace the whole experience, trust in your guides, and keep in mind that it’s sharing these experiences that makes them special. Head for the hills willing to share your space, and your stories, because it’s the story that you’ll remember long after you’ve taken your boots off.

Check Out Our Guided Trips

Other relevant information:

Preparing for a Hiking Adventure: 8 Fitness Tips for the 50+ Explorer
“For me, this was the best experience I’ve ever had.”



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