Responsible Freedom camping

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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.

As a responsible freedom camper in New Zealand, you are expected to respect the environment and minimise the impact on camping areas by taking away waste and ensuring you leave the site clean and tidy for those who come afterwards.

As Native American Chief Seattle once stated, “Take only memories, leave nothing but footprints.”

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.

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

More information about Responsible Freedom Camping in New Zealand


Personal Security

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.