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Best Tips for Free Camping in New Zealand

With diverse scenery being the forefront of New Zealand’s identity as a country, New Zealand is indeed the ideal destination for camping. If you’re thinking of going on an adventure with friends and family - or even a solo trip! - there are plenty of places where you can camp for free!

Of course, as you acknowledge the scenic beauty of these locations, this will guarantee that many of these New Zealanders will welcome you with open arms. Here we list our top tips to find out if, and where, you can go for a free camping adventure!

Where Can You Go?

Just to set things straight, not every camping location is free! Assume nothing, always ask an expert, Google, or more importantly, clarify with a local before you make your assumptions! There are specific locations in which you can pull up and camp for free - otherwise, you are required to make a booking beforehand.

If you end up in a location where you’re not supposed to be, the chances are you are illegally trespassing someone’s land and there will be consequences later on! Many towns and cities in New Zealand offer designated areas where you are allowed to publicly camp for free - but there might be small charges for amenities. Do remember to lookout for signs to see whether camping is allowed or not.

DOC is Your Friend!

Department of Conservation? Yes, you heard us! These words are extremely useful for your camping adventure throughout NZ. DOC manages more than 200 campsites around New Zealand, usually priced at extremely affordable rates - most of which includes basic amenities such as cooking shelters, toilets, and access to running water.

Some of the top locations include Lake Karapiro, a short drive from Hobbiton on the North Island and a Cascade Creek located in the Fiordland National Park, en route to the South Island’s spectacular Milford Sound. DOC also operates free campsites, often in more rural areas where you can be fully immersed in nature.


Best Camping Apps for Your Smartphone Device

There are numerous camping apps out there that are worth downloading from either the google play store or app store that can help aid your camping adventure. Most apps are verified by the local council in NZ and there are many reviews on the app itself from other travellers on specific camping areas. Plus, the great point is that you are allowed to use the app offline, so this can be a great bonus as it is available for all! 


Plan Thoroughly on Local Websites

The great part about these local websites is that they will allow you to plan your trip wisely. The local officials recently launched a website called ‘Camping Our way’ with a handy guide on where to camp and how you can camp safely. The summary is available in many languages, accommodating the different tourists around. If you click on ‘designated areas’ a link will appear for you to download the App on your individual devices which will be of great use throughout your entire trip. Simple!

To access the same regional camping information on this website, you can simply click on the main page and there is information regarding the descriptions of each facility as well as costs and reviews from local/ other travellers. If you want to hire a campervan from local companies, you are free to do so.

The core of this app is that it provides you with plenty different resources that can help you plan your trip better. As a result, you can worry less and enjoy your trip to the fullest.

How To Be Environmentally Responsible

Kiwis are fiercely proud of their nation and always open their arms to new visitors! However, you should follow these guidelines to have a better and less environmentally damaging, freedom camping around the country. Here are some tips you can follow: 

  • Leave no trace of your campsite.
  • Dispose your litter if there is any
  • Do not chop down trees or tamper with any plants/ vegetation.
  • Follow these rules and have fun! 


There are many places that you can visit in NZ for a free and fruitful trip! Keep in mind that you should respect and follow these tips put forth by local officials and local travellers around this area. Most importantly, enjoy your trip!

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