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

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."

Keep New Zealand clean

Always use a public toilet or toilet in your vehicle. Apps such Camper Mate(opens in new window) can help you find the nearest toilets. 

Protect our environment

Use recycling facilities whenever they are available to help protect our environment.

Waste disposal station

If travelling in a motorhome, you must empty your toilet and waste water at designated dump station. Look for signage or check where a nearby station is(opens in new window).

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(opens in new window) - no need for WiFi!

Download for Apple(opens in new window) | Download for Android(opens in new window)

Campermate App

Download the free Campermate(opens in new window) 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(opens in new window) | Download for Android(opens in new window)

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 in new window)