One of the biggest misconceptions about camping in New Zealand is that you can set up camp wherever you please. Full of vast outdoor vistas, at first glance New Zealand may appear to be a camper’s paradise, and you may have visions of roaming the countryside and pitching your tent wherever you see fit. The reality is that much of this land is privately owned, and setting up camp will require permission from the landowner in question. In some areas, campers have aroused the ire of the locals due to messy habits and disrespect of land, resulting in no camp zones that often extend for miles. This is why you need to know the facts about freedom camping in New Zealand before taking your motorhome hire out on the road.
Fortunately, there remain many areas where you can park your motorhome and set up camp. It all comes down to knowing where these areas are and making sure you are within them when you decide to bed down for the night.
Do Your Research
Before you set out, make sure to do your research and find out which areas in your chosen destination are freedom camping regions. You can easily find this information online. When mapping your journey, take into account where these areas are located and plan ahead to set up camp within them. This way you can be sure you won’t run into any trouble when camping along your route.
Talk To The Locals
No matter which area you may be traveling, there are sure to be local information centres or offices where you can inquire as to free camping in the area. Another great source is to speak with area locals who will be able to point you out to the free spots in their region.
Consult Fellow Motorhome Travellers
You will be sure to run across a number of other travellers along the road, be it at destination stops, restaurants, or rest stops. It is always good to exchange information with these fellow travellers, and one of the main topics will always be where free camping is located in the area. This hands on information is great since you can even
pick up tips on the individual spots from people who have camped them previously.
Be Clean and Respectful
Free camping is a wonderful privilege, so make sure not to take advantage of it and give campers a bad name. Pick up all of your trash. Leave the site in as good a condition as when you found it. Be careful with fires and keep the noise down. The last thing you want to do is ruin a free camping spot for everyone else by being disrespectful and having the site closed down.
Many of the free camp sites across New Zealand come equipped with some great amenities such as restrooms, public fountains, and rubbish bins. Before you set out, you should research each site you plan on setting up camp in to make sure you are prepared. Some sites may not have these facilities, while others will offer extra amenities. This will help in your planning so that you know what to bring and what will be provided for you at each site.
One thing you definitely want to avoid is getting fined while camping at a free site. Keep in mind that these sites are patrolled by local authorities. Never litter or break any noise violations. After all, free camping is suddenly very expensive if you have to pay fines along the way.
The myth of completely free camping is unfortunately not true when it comes to New Zealand, but there are many opportunities for free camping across the land. As long as you do your research and remain respectful, you should have no problem finding free, and hassle free, camping along the road.