New Zealand is one of the world’s most remote and naturally spectacular nations. From its giant mountain peaks and rugged fjords, to its pristine national parks and turquoise coloured lakes – it’s a country that any lover of the outdoors will instantly fall in love with. Travelling New Zealand in a campervan is a fantastic way of immersing yourself in the country’s outdoor beauty.

Best of all, New Zealand is a freedom camping nation, which means you can find plenty of campgrounds that have great facilities and don’t cost a single cent! So if you don’t want the hustle and bustle of a busy caravan park and would prefer to sleep among nature, try giving FREEDOM CAMPING a try when you’re travelling around New Zealand.

Campervan parked on side of road with view of lake and mountains, New Zealand.

So what is freedom camping?

New Zealand is a nation which is extremely popular for camping and campervan travel, also making it a great place for freedom camping. Freedom Camping is the practice of setting up camp or pulling up in your campervan in areas which are designated for camping without a cost. Generally, these freedom camping areas will have very basic or no amenities, such as toilets and barbeques. Free camping especially appeals to those campers who are wanting a cheap way to camp, or a more rustic and natural experience. Here are some great freedom camping spots in the South Island, just to give you a taster.

Freedom camping is marked by various signage, or you can find out where these places are by visiting the Freedom Camping New Zealand. You can also stop in at the local information centres to ask where you are able to camp.

Campervan parked at the bottom of a mountain in New Zealand

What do I need to know to freedom camp?

Due to the sheer amount of campervan travellers in New Zealand, the government has made strict regulations on where you can and cannot stay the night. To legally free camp in New Zealand, you must have a self-containment certification. As part of the certificate the campervan will need to be fitted out with a toilet…

The self-containment certificate is a government-issued sticker which is placed on the window of your authorised vehicle. Freedom camping and failing to display this sticker can result in heavy fines. Should you decide to Freedom Camp it is a must to book a self-contained campervan when exploring New Zealand.

Tip 1: If you are after hiring a self-contained campervan in New Zealand please visit our Campervan Hire page. Our Kuga (up to 6th of December 2024 due to change in government regulations) & Hi5 (Self-Contained)  campervans all come with the self-containment sticker! Please ensure to add the “Porta Potti” during the booking stage…

Tip 2: While a self-contained campervan is great it is often not required to explore New Zealand as self-contained campervans are around 15% to 30% more expensive than regular campervans. For as little as $95/person you can stay for 30 nights at any of the DOC Campgrounds – there are over 150 all around New Zealand with many of them in New Zealand nature…

People sitting next to campervan parked with mountain views, New Zealand

According to the New Zealand Tourism Industry for freedom camping you must always:

  • Use public toilets; do not use the bush or waterways as a toilet
  • Leave no trace of your visit
  • Dispose of all rubbish responsibly, or take it with you
  • Respect private property; don’t camp on someone’s land
  • Respect ‘No Camping’ signs; they are there for a reason
  • Keep detergents, soap, toothpaste etc. out of waterways
  • Only use approved dump stations to dispose of motorhome waste

Snow-capped mountain view out the back of a campervan in New Zealand

Best Apps to use to find Freedom Camping Sites

  1. Rankers Camping NZ App – another free app, which will show you over 1500 locations to camp, showing both full-facility holiday parks or an isolated hideaway (available for Android and IOS).
  2. CamperMate App – this will help you to find freedom camping spots, as well as receive traveller submitted tips and emergency alerts, giving you piece of mind when you travel. (available for Android and IOS).

Phone with apps

If you also want top tips on the 4 Best Apps for Freedom Camping in New Zealand then come and explore.

Looking for more information about Freedom Camping please visit our Freedom Camping North Island or Freedom Camping South Island or our Freedom Camping article library here…

For a full range of vehicles, don’t forget to check out the latest deals and offers on campervan hire in 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.

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