“Free camping” or “freedom camping” essentially means camping in a tent, campervan or motor vehicle on public land with minimal or no facilities, such as toilets or showers, for free.

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With limited facilities, the potential impact on the environment at these sites, or further down the eco-systems, can be significant if people are not camping responsibly.

Many of the great paddocks, fields, reserves and farmlands are privately owned and cannot be camped on. In addition, many of the public spots that appear good for camping are designated ‘No Camping’ zones.

If your clients are keen to try freedom camping then a good place to advise them to start planning is at the Freedom Camping website, where they can find regional information on freedom camping spots. 

Price range: Nothing - unless they are in breach of a local bylaw and are charged by the local council or the New Zealand police.

Facilities you may find at a Freedom Camping spot:
  • Public toilets
  • Picnic tables
  • Rubbish bins
When Freedom Camping in New Zealand your clients must always:
  • Use public toilets; not the bush or waterways as a toilet
  • Leave no trace 
  • Dispose of all rubbish responsibly, or take it with you
  • Respect private property; don’t camp on someone’s land
  • Respect ‘No Camping’ signs; they are there for a reason
  • Keep detergents, soap, toothpaste etc. out of waterways
  • Only use approved dump stations to dispose of motorhome waste
There are over 500 responsible freedom camping locations throughout New Zealand, each with different rules and regulations. However, there are some basic rules that all campers must follow.
 

The 4 basic rules for responsible freedom camping to share with your clients:

  • Camping on private property or sites displaying no camping signs, whether in a vehicle or a tent, is not permitted. Doing so can result in a $200 infringement fee. 
  • Visitors must have their own toilets, fresh water and waste systems, unless provided by the campsite.  In New Zealand we have a strong connection with our land and nature, so using the bushes is NOT OK. If the vehicle is not self-contained then a $200 infringement fee will apply. (When booking campervans – remember, not all will have these facilities – check they are certified self-contained). 
  • Emptying of on-board toilets is only permissible at legal Dump Stations, generally found in holiday parks.  Non-compliance can result in a $200 infringement fee or a maximum $10,000 fine if prosecuted. Look for the blue signage or check for a nearby station.​