Camping in New Zealand is a popular pastime. As a land of the outdoors, it's not surprising that a night under canvas is a preferred accommodation option.

There are few greater pleasures than sitting around a campfire on a clear-skied evening listening to waves breaking or gurgling rivers.

Where can you camp in New Zealand?

There are many different types of camping in New Zealand. 

Campgrounds and holiday parks

Campgrounds or holiday parks are commercial operations that provide a safe and well-equipped camping experience. You will usually find tent sites as well as powered and unpowered van/motorhome sites, and sometimes cabins or ‘units’. A tent site may be a specific marked patch of grass or a ‘take what you can find’ arrangement where you can pitch your tent anywhere. The cost of your tent or van space will include the use of the campground facilities.

Department of Conservation campsites

The Department of Conservation (DOC) manages over 250 public camping areas on conservation land throughout New Zealand. Located in some of New Zealand’s most beautiful regions, these campsites usually don’t have an on-site manager and are operated on a trust basis. Tents, vans, motorhomes and caravans are all welcome on DOC conservation campsites. Facilities are typically minimal and basic, but fees are very reasonable - sometimes free. 

Freedom camping or 'free' camping

There are certain areas in New Zealand where you can pull over, park your campervan or motorhome or set up your tent and camp for the night, free of charge.

When freedom camping in New Zealand you must always:

  • Use public toilets or the portable toilet in your vehicle
  • Leave no trace
  • Dispose of all rubbish responsibly, or take it with you
  • Keep detergents, soap, toothpaste etc. out of waterways
  • Only use approved dump stations to dispose of motorhome waste

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