Responsible Freedom camping

Responsible freedom camping can be a popular choice for some New Zealand visitors; but while it is free of charge, it is not free of responsibility.

Responsible freedom camping is camping in a tent, campervan or motor vehicle on public land, on a site with minimal or no facilities, such as toilets or showers.

There are over 500 responsible freedom camping locations in New Zealand, each with different rules and regulations. However, there are some basic rules that all responsible freedom campers must follow.

4 basic rules for freedom camping


1. Camping on private property is not permitted.
2. Visitors must have their own toilets, fresh water and waste systems, unless provided by the campsite.
3. Leaving behind litter and human waste is strictly prohibited at any location.
4. Emptying of on-board toilets is only permissible at legal Dump Stations, generally found in holiday parks. 

Remember that camping in prohibited areas and the illegal dumping of waste can result in hefty fines.

Signs to look out for

No freedom camping allowed

Freedom camping overnight is prohibited at sites displaying no camping signs.

Self-contained vehicles only

Only vehicles that have been certified as self contained (see Caravan Self Containment Certification) may camp at sites displaying this sign. 

Waste disposal station

If travelling in a motorhome, you must empty your toilet and waste water at designated dump station. Look for the blue signage or check where a nearby station is.

Dispose of rubbish responsibly

Respect the environment by taking away all waste, ensuring you leave the camping area clean for those who come afterwards.

As Native American Chief Seattle said: "Take only memories, leave nothing but footprints."

Where you can camp in New Zealand

Rankers Camping NZ App

Read independent reviews from other travellers and discover 1500 camping locations throughout New Zealand with Rankers' Offline Map - no need for WiFi!

Download for Apple | Download for Android

Campermate App

Download the free Campermate app to find campsites, toilets and waste stations. It also includes lots of other helpful information such as tips from other travelers and areas with WiFi access.

Download for Apple | Download for Android

Staying safe while camping

  • While New Zealand is a safe place compared to many other countries, it is important to be aware of your surroundings and think carefully before camping in secluded areas.
  • Double check weather conditions and plan for unexpected events. Always have plenty of supplies and if possible leave your details and travel plans with a contact.
  • For more information on responsible freedom camping, see

i-SITE Visitor Information Centres →

Holiday parks & campgrounds →

Department of Conservation campsites →

Motorhomes →