New Zealand is the number #1 country to explore via road trips, with thousands of tourists flocking to New Zealand on a yearly basis with the hopes to explore this beautiful place via campervan or road trip!

Over the years, the term “Freedom Camping” has become very popular as it allows travellers to stay overnight at a freedom camping campground for free or for very little money. Compared to commercial campgrounds, these are not managed by a “company” or “staff”. The great news is – the majority of those freedom camping campgrounds don’t require any self-contained campervans! This means great savings for your own pocket as self-contained campervans (campers who feature a toilet) are often 10% to 20% more expensive and book out very early during summer…

Campervan in a native lush rainforest in New Zealand

Freedom camping sites that allow non-self-contained campervans

See below for details on freedom camping options for a non-self-contained campervan.

Department of Conservation (DOC) camping areas

The Department of Conservation – also referred to as DOC – is all about looking after nature and protecting the New Zealand wildlife & historic heritage! They also manage over 250 campgrounds all over New Zealand – with the majority of them allowing you to experience “Freedom Camping” without being self-contained.

In fact, at the moment, there is a total of 167 campgrounds available for you to visit and stay overnight to experience New Zealand’s amazing nature!

Some of those require prebookings – some on a “first come – first serve” basis. Some are for free – some require payment. Yet the biggest benefit is to simply purchase a pass allowing you to access the majority of the DOC campgrounds for as little as $95 for 30 nights/person! That’s right – $95 for a total of 30 nights/person…

To stay at one of their amazing campgrounds, visit their website and make sure to select “Campervan” in the access section.

Typical amenities of DOC campsites

Standard campsites include:

  • Toilets
  • Water supply (treated or untreated tap water or from a stream or lake)
  • Vehicle access
  • May have wood BBQs and fireplaces, cold showers, picnic tables, a cooking shelter, and rubbish bins

Please note that untreated water should always be boiled before use to ensure its safety. Also, the extent of facilities may vary from site to site.

Prices & fees

Campsite Pass

365-night pass

  • Adult (18 years +): $195.00
  • Child/Youth (5-17 years): $97.50
  • Infant (0-4 years): Free

30-night pass

  • Adult (18+ years): $95.00
  • Child/Youth (5-17 years): $47.50
  • Infant (0-4 years): Free

Note: There is differential pricing for international visitors, as well as seasonal pricing.​ Check individual campsite pages.

While the Campsite Pass provides access to the majority of DOC campgrounds, it’s essential to be aware that some campsites require a separate pass and are not included in the general Campsite Pass. These campsites may have unique features or provide premium facilities that warrant this additional pass. For more information on DOC campsites you can read our full guide here.

Always check the specific requirements of each campground on the DOC website when planning your trip to ensure you have the appropriate passes and are prepared for your stay.

Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) camping areas

The Land Information New Zealand – also referred to as LINZ – manages land titles’ topographic information and works closely with the New Zealand government. As part of their role, they manage a total of 5 campgrounds – and two of them are accessible without being self-contained. It is a very easy & straightforward website – check it out and start camping!

Typical amenities of LINZ campsites

Bendigo, Central Otago District

  • Maximum stay of 3 nights per calendar month
  • Toilet facilities available
  • Tents allowed

Champagne Gully, Central Otago District

  • Maximum stay of 1 night per calendar month
  • Toilet facilities available
  • Tents allowed

Prices & fees

  • All campsites are free

Free campsites managed by Councils

In New Zealand, every local council manages their own land and provides a number of campgrounds available to travellers. While the majority require to be self-contained, you will find that a good 25% don’t require a self-contained certificate and you can simply park on dedicated campsites, e.g. a football stadium, on the side of the road or some other dedicated spots the council has provided to you. You find a list of all councils on the dedicated Freedom Camping website, yet be aware every council has its own website  – some have done an excellent job of finding information while others make it a bit more tricky…

Typical amenities of campsites run by local council

  • Toilets
  • Running water
  • Dump station

Prices & fees

  • All campsites are free


It’s all a bit confusing – we bet! If you want to keep things super easy, you can also just download one of the two top campground apps that will provide you with plenty of information and highlight all non-self-contained campgrounds – Campermate or Rankers NZ!




Ranker NZ



The apps have over 300 non-self-contained available campground lists!

Phone with apps

Commercial Campgrounds that allow non-self-contained vehicles

Of course, there are always commercially managed campgrounds – you might have to pay a bit more – yet the additional service plus many with spectacular views – are certainly worth it!

Typical amenities of commercial campsites

  • BBQ facilities
  • In-Room Cooking Facilities
  • Laundry services
  • Parking
  • Playground
  • Tea / Coffee Facilities
  • Wifi

One key benefit of staying at a commercial campground is the ability to stay warm at night time…even in November the night temperature can drop to 3 degrees…that’s very very cold and you be much better off at a powered campsite with a heater in your campervan!

Prices & fees

  • Price ranges from $16 to $66 per night, depending on the type of site you choose

We hope you found this article informative and can certainly assure you that there are plenty of amazing Freedom Camping spots accessible without being self-contained. It is actually quite simple – unless you planning to stay overnight at a public car park or local sports stadium – there is no need to travel in a self-contained campervan!

If you haven’t booked a campervan yet, check out our latest deals on campervan hire in New Zealand, and discover a range of non-self-contained as well as self-contained campervans around New Zealand!

About the Author

Bastian Graf

Bastian is the Sales & Marketing Manager here at Travellers Autobarn. He holds a Master of Commerce in Marketing and International Business Management, and 20+ years experience in campervan hire, road trips and travel.

Share this page

Find Your Nearest Travellers Autobarn Location