Free Camping in New Zealand

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We love free camping or freedom camping as it's also known as. Because we have a self-contained campervan, we are able to take advantage of the beautiful New Zealand scenery stopping overnight at the most stunning settings.

It is really important to be considerate and responsible if you are free camping. Many parts of New Zealand, especially in the North Island, now prohibit all freedom campers, including those in self-contained vehicles. This is because some campers have abused the free camping in that area, leaving rubbish and human waste. We don't want the remaining areas that allow freedom camping to ban the practice. For more information on different regional policies, click here

Freedom Camping Update - click here

New Zealand Environmental Code, click here

New Zealand Eco-Wise Travel Guide, click here

Rules of Free Camping

There are a few "rules" to observe if you are freedom camping:

  • When you leave, there should be no evidence that you were ever there - so you need to take all your rubbish. This is known as "Pack In, Pack Out"
  • Observe notices, so do not stop where is specifically says "No camping" or "No overnight parking"
  • Be aware of where you are stopping - do not block someone else's view
  • Use your onboard toilet or public toilets
  • Toilet waste and grey water must be emptied at dump stations only
  • If you're not sure about whether a location is suitable for free camping, ask the locals
  • If you don't have a self-contained campervan/motorhome, please use a serviced campsite
  • If you are asked to move on, do so graciously

If you're not sure what the requirements for a self-contained campervan/motorhome are, click here.

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Regional Policies on Free Camping

Starting from the top of the North Island, we will briefly state the district council's stance on freedom camping (correct as of December 2009). Where available, we have added links to the individual region's freedom camping policy.

  • Far North - no freedom camping. Read more
  • Northland -
    • Whangarei District - free camping
    • Kaipara District - no freedom camping
    • Rodney District - self-contained campervans/motorhomes can stop in public places (other than prohibited areas or within 1km of a campsite) for a maximum of 2 nights
  • Auckland -
    • North Shore City - no freedom camping
    • Auckland City - no free camping
    • Waitakere City - no freedom camping
    • Manukau City - no freedom camping
    • Frankin District - self-contained campervans/motorhomes can stop for a maximum of 2 nights at Ray's Rest, Te Toro Reserve, Hamilton's Gap, Rosa Birch and St Stephens car parks, and Waiuku Service Centre
    • Papakura District - no free camping
  • Hauraki/Coromandel -
    • Hauraki District - no freedom camping
    • Thames Coromandel District - no freedom camping
  • Waikato - no free camping
  • Rotorua -
    • Rotorua District - no freedom camping. Read more
    • Taupo District - short term free camping is allowed
  • Bay of Plenty (BOP) -
    • Western BOP District - self-contained campervans/motorhomes can stop for a maximum of 2 nights in designated reserves
    • Tauranga District - self-contained campervans/motorhomes can stop for a maximum of 2 nights in Memorial Park, Greeton Park, Fergusson Park, Marine Park, Waikareao Foreshore Reserve, Huharua Harbour Park and Marine Parade (opposite Mount Drury Reserve). 
  • Eastern Bay of Plenty -
    • Whakatane - no free camping
    • Opotiki - no freedom camping
    • Kawerau - is a "motorhome friendly zone" and self-contained campervans/motorhomes can stop
  • Eastland - Gisbourne District - self-contained campervans/motorhomes can stay at designated areas with a camping permit which can be purchased from Uawa Food market (Tolaga Bay), Waerenga-O-Kuri Store (Donneraille Park), Information Centre (Grey St), Council Te Puia Service Centre (Fitzherbert St). Read more
  • Hawkes Bay -
    • Napier District - no free camping
    • Hastings District - self-contained campervans/motorhomes can stop for a maximum of 2 nights in designated areas - Pakowhai Country Park, Richmond Road Clive, Clifton Reserve Te Awanga, Riverlands Park, Havelock North, Maraetotara Falls Reserve, Puketapu Park.
    • Central Hawkes Bay District - free camping for self-contained campervans/motorhomes is allowed for up to 7 days in designated areas - Te Paerahi Beach (Porongahau), Pourerere Beach (with a permit - ph 857 8060), Kairakau Beach, Pakowhai Country Park, Puketapu Domain, Riverlands Park
    • Tararua District - self-contained campervans/motorhomes can stop short-term
  • Taranaki -
    • New Plymouth District - self-contained campervans/motorhomes can stop for a maximum of 2 nights
    • South Taranaki District - no free camping
    • Ruapehu District - no freedom camping
  • Wanganui - Wanganui District - no free camping
  • Manawhenua -
    • Manawatu District - self-contained campervans/motorhomes can stop for a maximum of 2 nights in designated areas - Almadale Reserve, Apiti Reserve, Bartlett's Ford Reserve, Rangiwahia Reserve, Menzies Ford Reserve, Mt Stewart Reserve, Sanson Recreational Reserve, Valley Road Lookout, Herlihy Reserve, Kitchener Park, Timona Park, Victoria Park
    • Horowhenua District - self-contained campervans/motorhomes can stop for one night in designated areas - Kimberley Reserve (Levin), Parikawatu Reserve (Ohau)
    • Kapiti District - no free camping
  • Wairarapa -
    • South Wairarapa District - self-contained campervans/motorhomes can stop for a maximum of 2 nights
    • Tararua District - self-contained campervans/motorhomes can stop for a maximum of 2 nights except in urban areas
    • Carterton District - no free camping
    • Masterton District - Self contained campers are allowed to stay at Henley Lake on the car park area.
  • Wellington -
    • Wellington City - no free camping
    • Upper Hutt City - no freedom camping
  • Marlborough - self-contained campervans/motorhomes can stop for a maximum of 2 nights except in prohibited areas (signed) and within 500m of a campsite
  • Kaikoura - no free camping. Read more
  • Nelson -
    • Nelson City - self-contained campervans/motorhomes can stop overnight in the car park at the Trafalgar Centre (Paru Paru Rd). Read more
    • Tasman District - self-contained campervans/motorhomes can stop for a maximum of 2 nights except in prohibited areas, Kaiteriteri beach or within 500m of a campsite. Read more

West Coast -

    • Buller District - self-contained campervans/motorhomes can stop for a maximum of 2 nights except in prohibited areas ("No Camping" signs)
    • Grey District - self-contained campervans/motorhomes can stop for a maximum of 2 nights except in prohibited areas ("No Camping" signs) or within 1 km of a campsite
    • Westland District - self-contained campervans/motorhomes can stop for a maximum of 2 nights except in prohibited areas ("No Camping" signs), Hans Bay Foreshore and Sunny Bight at Lake Kaniere, Sunset Point Hokitika, Wadeson Hokitika or within 5 km of a campsite. Read more
  • Canterbury -
    • Hurunui District - self-contained campervans/motorhomes can stop for a maximum of 2 nights. Read more
    • Waimakariri District - no free camping
    • Christchurch City - no free camping as of  March 12 2016 - due to inconsiderate dumping of human waste by free campers.
  • South Canterbury -
    • Ashburton District - freedom camping is allowed at designated sites - Rakaia Huts, Hakatere Hills (Rangitata Gorge), Taylor's Stream, Bowyer's Stream and Hinds River at Mayfield (all on Inland Scenic Route)
    • Timaru District - self-contained campervans/motorhomes can stop for a maximum of 2 nights in designated areas - Patiti Point, Caroline Bay (adjacent to roller skating rink), O'Neill's Reserve, Waitohi Bush, Winchester Bridge Reserve, Arundel Bridge Reserve, Milford Huts Reserve, Opihi River Mouth
    • Waimate District - self-contained campervans/motorhomes can free camp and Waimate District manages camping reserves at the Waitaki Lakes (ph 03 689 8079 for information). Read more
    • Mackenzie District - self-contained campervans/motorhomes can stop for a maximum of 2 nights except in Lake Tekapo Village and the area surrounding Lake McGregor. Read more
  • Otago -
    • Central Otago District - self-contained campervans/motorhomes can stop for a maximum of 2 nights except in prohibited areas ("No Camping" signs), Alexandra Pines, banks of Lake Dunstan
    • Dunedin City - self-contained campervans/motorhomes can stop at designated areas - The Oval, Brighton Domain, Warrington Domain, Portobello Domain, Market Reserve, Bucklands Crossing, Forrester Park
    • Clutha District - self-contained campervans/motorhomes can stop for a maximum of 2 nights except in prohibited areas ("No Camping" signs), urban areas and the Foreshore between Kaka Point and The Nuggets. Read more
    • Queenstown Lakes District - no free camping within the town centre but self-contained campervans/motorhomes can stop outside the town centre. Read more
  • Southland -
  • Gore District - no free camping
  • Southland District - self-contained campervans/motorhomes can stop in designated areas - Colac Bay, Hedgehope, Fortrose, Haldane Weir Beach reserve, Manapouri, Nightcaps McGregor Park, Orepuki Monkey Island Picnic Area, The Key, Thornbury Bridge Picnic Area, Waikawa Recreation Reserve (length of stay varies with each location from 1 night only to 28 nights maximum). Read more

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Nearest Amenities

We hope you enjoy free camping as much as we do. Remember to leave no trace of your visit when you leave.

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