Not So Free Camping
Freedom – or free – camping is something many people come to New Zealand to experience, often hiring a motorhome to do so. Freedom camping is when you camp for the night somewhere that isn’t in a proper campground. This gives you a greater degree of freedom when you travel around New Zealand and, of course, a cheaper holiday, as you’re not paying so many campground fees.
Unfortunately, since the controversial introduction of the Freedom Camping Act in 2011, camping in New Zealand isn’t quite so free. Worse, different regional councils around New Zealand have different (and often unclear) rules about where you can and can’t camp, and getting it wrong can result in an instant $200 fine.
So Where Can You Camp?
To address this issue – because even I find it difficult to fathom – I’ve compiled two simple lists: Where You Can Camp in New Zealand, and Where You Can’t Camp in New Zealand.
Some people will tell you to play it safe and just stay at proper campgrounds, but that will lead to the death of freedom camping – and then where would budget travellers be? Some proper campgrounds are free to stay at, but they can be few and far between. Know your rights and stand up for freedom camping. Besides, it makes for a cheaper holiday.
Where You CAN Free Camp
- Public conservation land, (unless there are signs saying otherwise)
- Certain reserve car parks that have signs saying you can
- Picnic areas off highways, (unless there are signs saying otherwise)
Where You CAN’T Free Camp
- Business car parks
- Street sides
- Near traffic
- Private land, (unless you ask the owner)
- In the Auckland area
- Anywhere there’s a sign saying you can’t
Article by Abigail Simpson, author of Poms Away: A British Immigrant’s View of New Zealand