Your Travel Guide: How to freedom camp in New Zealand

Road tripping your way around the country is a dream for many young travellers and is a neat way to see all the best sights without spending half your budget on accommodation. Travelling round in a converted van or a cheeky little motor home is a kiwi tradition. But before you set off on your adventure it is best you know all the rules and regulations around freedom camping, so your trip doesn’t wind up spoilt by a hefty fine.

Freedom camping is when you camp on public land that is not recognised or registered as a campground. Each district has a unique set of locations available to freedom campers, so make sure you check that your plot of choice has been pre-approved.

Other than that, there are a few universal rules you should follow to keep yourself out of trouble, but they are all pretty much no-brainers:

No creeping on the locals – Don’t camp on Private Land
Be a tidy Kiwi – Don’t leave behind any waste or rubbish
Basic hygiene – Use public bathrooms if you are not self-contained

To be sure you are in line with any more specific rules, check in with a local district council, or and i-site visitors centre. The people there will be able to inform you of any unique stipulations.

The easiest way to freedom camp is by making your vehicle self-contained. Self-contained vehicles are given greater clearance to stay in substantially more locations as you are less likely to be a disturbance on the locals.
Making your vehicle self-contained is easier than you’d think. All you need to do is demonstrate that your vehicle could be totally self-sufficient for at least three days. To do this, you need:

Freshwater storage
Wastewater storage
A rubbish bin with a lid
A portable toilet

Once you have these things, a plumber or gas fitter will check your vehicle meets the retirements and issue you with a warrant and sticker of certification. Many conservation areas are prohibited to campers without self-contained stickers, so this certification is the best way to ensure you can set up camp anywhere you like.

Road tripping around the country can be a breeze and an absolutely unforgettable experience. By understanding all the freedom camping requirements, you can make sure your holiday is hassle-free.