Free Camping In New Zealand: An Update

If you’ve considered hiring a campervan to tour New Zealand, you’ve probably also given freedom camping a thought. Parking up for the night next to a stunning lake or beach sounds an idyllic way to travel. But be aware: you can’t just camp anywhere you like in New Zealand. Here’s what you need to know.

Do your homework
Rules about where and how you can camp are different across New Zealand. Every district and council has different bylaws. This website provides useful links.

Camping is permitted on public conservation land, except in areas where it is prohibited or restricted to self-contained vehicles. This is indicated by signs at each location. For a list of conservation areas where camping is prohibited or restricted to self-contained vehicles, visit the Department of Conservation’s website.

What’s a self-containment certificate?
It means that your vehicle is able to provide a minimum of three days of self-containment for water supply, greywater and septic waste. If you’re hiring a campervan with a toilet, shower and waste water facilities, it will likely have a self-containment certificate. Check with your rental company before booking, to make certain.

Get the Rankers NZ app
This lists every New Zealand camping location, from free sites to paid campsites. It’s available for free from the App Store or Google Play.

Check out your other options
DOC manages more than 200 camping sites across both islands. Facilities vary: the most basic offer just toilets (often of the long drop variety) and water, while serviced campsites provide showers, rubbish collection and laundry facilities. Fees range from free to $23 per adult per night. Bookings can be made online, at a DOC visitor centre, or you can use the self-registration stands when you arrive.

You can also camp cheaply at many of Auckland’s regional parks and Wellington’s regional parks.

Have a good week,
Steve.