Use these links to quickly navigate between our freedom camping guide.
What is Freedom Camping?
Freedom camping is when you camp on public land or using a campsite specifically designed for freedom campers.
What does that mean? Well besides a few rules we’ve covered below, you won’t be disturbed by other campers, as most stick to their own plan; you can laugh, sing, and talk as you like without disturbing others too.
Enjoy 360-degree views, stargazing and stunning terrain all to yourself!
Is Freedom Camping ‘Free’?
It might seem a little confusing at first, but it’s important to know that not all freedom camping comes free-of-charge.
Lucky for you, our guide provides a tonne of low-cost or free campgrounds across the North and South Island. For details, download our guide.
5 Rules for Freedom Camping
1. Stick to Self-Contained
Starting off with number one – hiring a self-contained vehicle. Thankfully, in New Zealand it’s pretty straightforward, but it means that you’ll be able to camp on Department of Conservation (DOC) land and district council land.
2. Clean up after yourself
To preserve New Zealand’s natural beauty, be sure to use designated rubbish bins or take any trash with you – always pack up what you brought with you.
3. Use recycling facilities
Protect the environment by using recycling facilities, and remain conscious of whether you’re placing your rubbish into the correct bins.
4. Use designated waste facilities
This goes without saying – do not use nature as your personal restroom!
Always use the toilet attached to your self-contained vehicle or find a public toilet nearby using the CamperMate app.
5. Respect the locals
Don’t get us wrong – freedom camping means you can have a lot of fun – but be mindful of other campervans, residential areas or local council guidance on noise restrictions.
What is a self-contained vehicle?
A self-contained vehicle meets specific standards, making it environmentally friendly and qualified to camp without having to rely on public facilities nearby.
To qualify, self-contained vehicles must supply:
- Fresh water & waste water supply for at least 3 days
- A functioning toilet
- A lidded rubbish bin
- A valid ‘NZS 5464’ sticker to prove its certification.
In fact, if you hire a self-contained campervan, it’ll hold all of your equipment – so you don’t have to haul your gear around and pitch a tent.
Self-contained campervans are also super spacious – meaning you’ll be able to sleep multiple people and still get around to a game of cards if you get stuck inside during a rainstorm.
Where can I ‘Freedom Camp’?
Looking for the best spots to freedom camp? Our complete guide showcases top sites, and provides a step-by-step breakdown of how you can easily find the best campgrounds. Take the hassle out of your travel research, and download it today!
For a smaller taste of what New Zealand has to offer, read our bonus guides below.
North Island Guides
5 Best Spots to Freedom Camp near Auckland
Gulf Harbour, Hatfield’s Beach or Hamilton’s Gap — they’re all covered in our top 5 freedom camping spots across Auckland — and they’re some of our favourites in New Zealand. Discover more!
7 Best Freedom Camping Spots on North Island
Serene and secluded spots — they’re all part of our best freedom campsites across the North Island. Check out our list, and start soaking up the sunrise.
South Island Guides
7 Best Spots for Freedom Camping near Christchurch
From snowy mountains to pristine lakes, these free and low-cost spots close to Christchurch are all you need as you head mid-way through South Island. Discover our list and get on the road!
6 Best Freedom Camping Spots on South Island
Six amazing grounds, covering lakeside locations like Twenty Five Mile Stream and Lake Tekapo Camp Site. Explore the complete list in our comprehensive guide.
Download these Mobile Apps
CamperMate is your pocket guide to New Zealand, built by campers from around the world.
Camping NZ by Rankers
Poor reception? No worries!
The Camping NZ app lets you use the app virtually anywhere with offline freedom camping maps.
You’ll not only find campsites closest to your road trip route, but you’ll be provided with nearby facilities like laundromats or ATMs.
Freedom camping is by far one of the best ways to experience the wonders of New Zealand’s North and South Island.
Plan your trip in advance and learn the latest rules with our bonus resources.
New Zealand Road Trips
We’ve put together a tonne of road trip itineraries to help you explore all of what NZ has to offer. Here are some of our best:
- Christchurch to Queenstown Road Trip (5-10 days)
- Christchurch to Dunedin Road Trip (7 days)
- Auckland to Queenstown Road Trip (21 days)
Interested in something different? Start exploring our other road trip itineraries.
Safe Driving in New Zealand
Before setting off in New Zealand, make sure you’re accustomed to all the rules, like driving on the left-hand side.
Take care, and study the handbook in our simple safe driving guide.
Campervan Hire 101
Hiring a campervan for the first time? Before you head off to live life on the road, there’s a couple of things worth being aware of.
We’ve covered our top 5 checkpoints in this campervan rental guide. Check it out and start your next adventure!
Freedom camping is one of the best ways to experience the wonders of New Zealand. If you plan in advance and stick to the rules, you’ll take in sights that will make your jaw drop – whether you’re a seasoned traveller or taking a road trip for the first time.