Freedom Camping Nelson

If you’re looking for a truly unique way of exploring everything Nelson has to offer while embracing your wild side, there’s no better choice than a freedom camping holiday. With so many outdoor pursuits right outside your campervan door and some of the most beautiful scenery in all of New Zealand, you’re guaranteed to have a trip to remember.

However, freedom camping rules and bylaws can be difficult for some people to understand, and if you end up in the wrong area you could be given a pretty hefty fine. So, to make things as easy as possible, we’ve going to look at the spots in Nelson where freedom camping is allowed, along with simplified information on the freedom camping bylaw here.

Are you ready? Let’s go exploring!

Nelson Freedom Camping Spots

  1. Trafalgar Park
  2. Queen Elizabeth II Drive Gardens
  3. Inner City Carparks
  4. Maitai Cricket Ground Carpark
  5. Wakapuaka Reserve Carpark
  6. Isel Park

Each of the freedom camping spots we’ve listed above has its own regulations and nuances, which we’ll explore in more detail below. However, one thing they all have in common is that they only allow freedom camping in certified self contained vehicles.

Contact the expert team at Travellers Autobarn today and ask about hiring a campervan. We’ll make sure you have a suitable vehicle for your Nelson freedom camping adventure and that suits your specific needs.


Trafalgar Park

Trafalgar Park

Haven Foresore, Nelson

Located close the heart of the city, Trafalgar Park has four designated freedom camping spots, which you’ll find in the Kinzett Terrace Carpark. As with all freedom camping spots in Nelson, only self contained vehicles are allow to stay here and you are limited to two consecutive nights per calendar month.

One of the best things about this spot is that you’ll find yourself in the perfect balance of nature and culture. The surrounding parks offer excellent walking trails, but you’ll also be able to easily access several restaurants, cafes, and shops, making it possible to stock up on your supplies or simply treat yourself to a meal out. You’ll also be close to the Nelson i-SITE, where you can pick up all the information you need about local attractions and activities.

FEATURED AMENITIES

  • No Amenities – Self Contained Vehicles Only

Queen Elizabeth II Drive Gardens

Queen Elizabeth II Drive Gardens

Haven Foresore, Nelson

For those looking for more a peaceful, back-to-nature setting, Queen Elizabeth II Drive Gardens is a great choice. This site is well-known throughout Nelson for it’s beautiful gardens and well-maintained grounds, and it’s ideal for leisurely strolls or settling down with a picnic while taking in the surrounding view.

You can freedom camp here for up to two nights, but there aren’t any specifically designated spaces. So, to make sure you pull up in the right area, pay attention to the signage in the parking areas. As with all of Nelson’s freedom camping areas, you won’t find any amenities here either, but this isn’t too much of an issue since you’ll need to be in a self contained vehicle.

FEATURED AMENITIES

  • No Amenities – Self Contained Vehicles Only

Inner City Carparks

Inner City Carparks

Inner City, Nelson

There are three carparks within Nelson Inner City that allow freedom camping, and visitors can pull up at each for a maximum period of two nights in any calendar month. However, each has a different number of designated spaces, as follows:

  • Wakatu Carpark – 20 spaces
  • Montgomery Carpark – 25 spaces
  • Buxton Carpark – 23 spaces

With so many spaces available across all three, these carparks are ideal if you’re concerned about finding a spot. However, there are a couple of additional rules you need to keep in mind.

Firstly, freedom camping isn’t permitted at Montgomery Carpark from 10 pm Friday until 8 am Monday, so it’s not the best choice if you’re looking for weekend camping options. Also, a ban on the consumption of alcohol is in place 24/7 in Buxton and Montgomery Carparks, and breaking this rule can result in police arrest or a $250 fine.

FEATURED AMENITIES

  • No Amenities – Self Contained Vehicles Only

Maitai Cricket Ground Carpark

Maitai Cricket Ground Carpark

Maitai Valley Road, Nelson

With space for just two self contained vehicles, Maitai Cricket Ground Carpark is a good option for anyone looking to escape the sound of the city and feel as “off grid” as possible. You can stay here for two nights per calendar month, and as always, you need to be in a self contained vehicle.

This isn’t only a quiet spot, it’s also one of the most picturesque freedom camping sites and with it’s location along the Maitai River, you’ll have the opportunity for fishing, swimming, or simply kicking back and relaxing in the beautiful surroundings. You’ll also find dump stations here, but you’re only allowed to use these if you’re actually staying here.

FEATURED AMENITIES

  • Dump Stations

Wakapuaka Reserve Carpark

Wakapuaka Reserve Carpark

Wakapuaka, Nelson

Another good option for freedom campers looking for a more remote location, Wakapuaka Reserve Carpark offers three designated spaces for self contained vehicles and you’re welcome here for two nights in any calendar month. There are no amenities here, so you’ll need to be a confident self-sufficient camper, but the lush greenery of this space and the quiet atmosphere more than makes up for this.

This is also a very good option for anyone who enjoys hiking or birdwatching or for anybody simply seeking the enjoyment of relaxing in nature.

FEATURED AMENITIES

  • No Amenities – Self Contained Vehicles Only

Isel Park

Isel Park

Main Road Stoke Carpark, Nelson

At Isel Park, you’ll find three different parking areas that allow freedom camping and each has a certain number of designated spaces. These do fill up quite quickly, though, so it’s best to get here as early as possible if you want to grab a space, and once parked, you can stay here for two nights in any calendar month.

This is another good option for campers looking for a mix of nature and culture, and the nearby heritage house and gardens are an ideal setting for enjoying a picnic or walking. There are many opportunities to learn about the history of the area here, too, which is ideal if you’re interested in exploring Nelson’s past.

FEATURED AMENITIES

  • No Amenities – Self Contained Vehicles Only

A Note on Freedom Camping in Nelson

Note on Freedom Camping in Nelson

Before you head to Nelson, it’s important that you’re aware of the area’s freedom camping bylaw imposed by the council and certain rules that go with it. To start with, the only places you are able to freedom camp is in the spots we’ve listed above. Camping outside of these designated sites and spaces is against the law, and if you’re found to be in breach of this bylaw you could receive a $200 fine.

You also need to be aware that there is a liquor ban in place in Nelson City Centre, so if you’re staying in any freedom camping spots in this area you’re only allowed to drink alcohol inside your campervan. Outdoor drinking is strictly prohibited.

While you can pull up in you campervan for up to two nights in the spots listed above, the term “night” is considered 10 pm – 7 am only. Outside of this time period, normal parking charges and restrictions will apply.

Whether you prefer the convenience of city carparks and campgrounds, the tranquility of reserves, or the charm of historical parks, Nelson has something to offer everyone, and each site provides a unique experience, allowing you to explore the beauty and culture of this vibrant region.

However, to make sure you’re not breaking the freedom camping bylaw here, you must be in a certified self contained vehicle. Contact Travellers Autobarn today, and we’ll find you the perfect campervan for your needs and help make your Nelson freedom camping experience a truly memorable one.


Freedom Camping in New Zealand – Important Information

There’s no doubt that freedom camping is one of the best ways to see everything New Zealand offers. However, there are some important things to note before you head out on your adventures:

  1. Freedom camping sites are usually only suitable for self contained vehicles, and the hire price of these can be between 10%-40% more expensive than non self contained vehicles. So, this is something you’ll need to factor into your budget.
  2. While freedom camping sites offer beautiful views in remote locations, their amenities are normally very limited. Also, even during the summer, night temperatures can fall as low as 0°C.
  3. Most freedom camping sites don’t have a booking system, and, as such, spaces are offered on a first-come-first-served basis. This means finding a spot can be quite difficult.
  4. Camping areas that are certified DOC (Department of Conservation) allow you to extend your stay for up to 30 nights as long as you hold a DOC Campsite Pass. These are massively useful for frequent freedom campers and cost as little as $95 per person.
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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