Who we are


Photo: Mark Coote


El Rancho is one of the largest camp and conference centres in Aotearoa, with a range of venues available for group bookings.

Registered as a charity, El Rancho is a not-for-profit organisation.

We host close to 25,000 guests annually, including different groups from across New Zealand and beyond.

El Rancho’s guests span all ages and demographics; we serve families, schools, corporate, church and community groups.

The main services we offer include accommodation, catering, conferences, ministry programmes and activities.

Generations of people have been touched by El Rancho’s generous hospitality, creating life-changing experiences. 



El Rancho exists to share the good news of Jesus Christ, and serve people of all ages through conferences, conventions, camps, and holiday activities.


The gift of land, created by God, gives life. 

​Land is a blessing. ​

Since ancient times the land of El Rancho was held within the care of the Takamore Trust. Today El Rancho and Takamore recognise that we both have important connections to this land. ​

​The land is now designated under the District Plan as Wāhi Tapu.

The land is also a spiritual sanctuary for people to discover, refresh and mature in Jesus Christ. Together, Takamore and El Rancho have an on-going relationship as "Kaitiaki - stewards of this land".

History of El Rancho

In the late 1950s, John Campion, Bill Crighton and others had a dream, inspired by the Christian Convention at Ngāruawāhia, to provide a similar Christian convention in the Wellington area. Together with others the decision was prayerfully made to purchase a piece of land from the Weggery estate on the banks of the Waikanae River.

On 11 December 1961, the 50 acres of land that would become Waikanae Christian Holiday Park was purchased for $5,000. Waikanae Christian Holiday Park was established as an incorporated society soon after on 8 April 1963. It was to be a place where people with Christian desires or interests could gather in peace to develop in their faith, build relationships in community and engage in promoting the life-giving good news of Jesus Christ.

The setting was a peaceful holiday park where families could come to relax and refresh. The first camps were held in tents and caravans. By the end of the sixties, “El Rancho” was the name given to the children’s holiday camps held every school holiday. After many years and undoubtedly due to the tens of thousands of people whose lives were changed at an El Rancho camp, the average person acquainted with the park began to simply refer to the place as “El Rancho.”

Our founders had incredible wisdom and insight from God when they wrote a constitution that was broad enough to allow future generations to align the organisation’s goals and objectives to present and future needs. It was also specific enough to ensure the original intentions and commitments of the founders could be identified and upheld.

Our constitution protects the unity of the Spirit between all believers by requiring we are non-denominational.