This is a good question and you may get varied answers from different people. New legislation was introduced in August 2011 around freedom camping in NZ. Local councils are now able to issue fines to people freedom camping in non-designated places. It may be a cheap option for a night but that one night could cost you $200 in a fine or more!
Free camping is still legal in the right places. It is important you understand where you can free camp. We have a great map http://map.spaceshipsrentals.co.nz/ that shows over 500 freedom camping locations! It is worth having a good look at this and do some planning.
We strongly recommend that you spend a bit of time planning your trip and use one of the many great camping ground options available as much as you can. New Zealand campgrounds range from free to around $35 per night based on the services and facilities available. They are often in great locations and provide all the services and facilities you need.
If you get a powered site and hire a mains plug from us you can charge your smart phone, lap top, camera and have proper bathroom facilities with a hot shower! Plus you also get to meet other like-minded travellers, exchange travel stories and get good information from travellers who have expereinced products all over the country.
There are also hostels and budget motels and hotels located throughout New Zealand.
Your Spaceship comes supplied with Department of Conservation (DOC) campground guides for the North and South Island, plus information on all the main holiday park and campgrounds in New Zealand (Top Ten, Family Holiday Parks and so on). You can also visit one of our many Space Mates and find out the best local places to camp.
So in answer to your question – can I freedom camp in New Zealand? Yes you can but only in the correct places as shown on the Rankers map of campgrounds.
Have fun out there exploring New Zealand and if you require further information on what to see and do talk with us. We have a huge wealth of information on the best operators and activity providers around New Zealand. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Please look after New Zealand while on the road. You can check in at your local i-SITE as you travel for information on where to camp also.
To stay safe whilst travelling in New Zealand we recommend you use reliable transport to get around the country. We strongly advise against hitchhiking.