Freedom camping in New Zealand: info & tips about where to camp in NZ

Posted on 10/07/2018 by Spaceships Crew

So you are looking at travelling in New Zealand and want to know, can I free camp in New Zealand? This is a good question and you may get varied answers from different people or blogs. To make things easy for you we have gathered all the info about freedom camping in New Zealand.

What is freedom camping?

Freedom camping is parking your campervan in areas that are not always meant for camping. This often means that you have limited access to facilities, like water or toilets, or don't have these facilities at all. You can't just park & camp in your campervan anywhere in New Zealand. There are rules when it comes to freedom (or free) camping.

New legislation was introduced in August 2011 around freedom camping in New Zealand. Local councils are now able to issue fines to people freedom camping in non-designated places. It may be a cheap option for a night but that one night could cost you $200 in a fine or more!

Is freedom camping legal?

In the right places, (freedom) camping is legal. But it is important you understand where you can free camp. When on the road use the free Spaceships camping app (for Android and Apple), so you know exactly where you can and can't camp for free.

We recommend using as many of the many great camping ground options available as much as you can. They are often in great locations and provide all the services and facilities you need. Prices for these campsites range from $0 (free) to $15-$20 per night. There are so many free or budget campsites throughout New Zealand. You'll love it here.

Beta 2S on sunny campsite

Camping at a DOC campsite is responsible & fun camping in New Zealand

Where can I camp?

Your Spaceships campervan comes supplied with guides for Department of Conservation (DOC) campgrounds for the North and the South Island plus information on all the main holiday park and campgrounds in New Zealand.

So in answer to your question, can I (freedom) camp in New Zealand? Yes, you can camp in awesome and remote locations, but only in the correct places. DOC provides over 200 campsites of which around 50 of them are free camps, so it's best to use these. Plus there are so many great campsites run by regional or local councils, volunteers etc that you'll have 100s and 100s of campgrounds to choose from.

Freedom camping done the right way, is having respect for the beauty of New Zealand and stay at campsites or campgrounds where it is allowed to camp. And yes, these can definitely be in the middle of nowhere. That's what New Zealand is all about, camping in awesome places. Explore and respect New Zealand.

Not sure if you can camp somewhere? Don't assume anything but ask at an i-Site, holiday park or check it on the website of Department of Conservation (DOC).

Do I need to stay at powered campsites?

Not at all. Roadtripping with a Spaceships campervan means that you are super-flexible. The smart battery system of a Spaceships campervan is self-charging, it charges as you drive. Except for the Rocket as that one doesn't have the smart-battery system. None of the Spaceships campervans can or need to be plugged in at powered campsites. Driving and camping with a Spaceship is easy.

Staying at a powered campsites means that you'll be able to charge your smartphone, laptop, camera or any other gadget you're travelling with. Hiring a mains plug from us could be a good option. You will also get access to proper bathroom facilities with a hot shower! Plus you are likely to meet other travellers and locals to share stories with and find out more about things to do and see in New Zealand.


Mix it up: hosteling while camping

As your Spaceships campervan drives like a regular car, you can go to places big motorhomes can't go. This means you can go to even the remotest (DOC) campsite, whether free or paid. And even the paid ones are a cheap option for camping in New Zealand.

But you can also mix and match and drive your campervan to any of the many hostels or budget motels in New Zealand. Sometimes it's nice to spend one or two nights there, especially if you plan to visit the sights in a city or town. As you'll save heaps when driving around in a fuel-efficient Spaceship, it's nice to treat yourself to the "luxury" of a hostel or budget motel every once in a while.

Need more info about (freedom) camping in New Zealand?

Have fun out there exploring New Zealand. There's so much to see and do. If you require further information on what to see and do talk to your mates at Spaceships. We have a massive amount of knowledge and information on the best operators and activity providers around New Zealand. Just ask any Spaceships crew member, when picking up your vehicle or when making your making. Our friendly crew is always ready to help, online (see live chat icon at bottom of the page) and offline.

Please look after New Zealand while on the road. You can also check in at your local i-SITE (tourist information office) as you travel for information on where to camp. Or check out the website.

Freedom camping top tip: if you're not sure if you can camp somewhere then don't assume. Please check the free Spaceships app, ask at an i-SITE or check with a local. 

Play it safe while camping in New Zealand 

Remember New Zealand weather can include four seasons in one day. Being prepared is important. If you are planning a walk in the hills or mountains it is best to take a day pack with some food, water and a rain jacket and spare warm clothes. You can browse the below links for further information on New Zealand.

Camping at DOC holiday park

Camping at a DOC holiday park

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