The Ins and Outs of Freedom Camping

The Ins and Outs of Freedom Camping
Jason Nockels

Written by Jason Nockels

The Ins and Outs of Freedom Camping

Have you ever felt like just hopping in the car, traveling to the great outdoors and roughing it? No hotels or noisy neighbours, just you, your family and nature? Freedom Camping may be your ticket to the great outdoors.

What is Freedom Camping?

Freedom camping is the concept of camping in an undesignated campground and is permitted in almost all public areas in New Zealand. This activity is a great way to take in the country’s stunning landscapes and breathtaking views, from a secure, secluded location that doesn’t cost anything. In addition to the families and groups traveling in a motor vehicle, caravan, or tent, cyclists and hikers also take up the hobby as they travel the country.

In the past, freedom campers had a wider variety of sites to choose from until the government issued the Freedom Camping Act of 2011. The piece of legislation, which has since been updated, spells out information about where freedom camping is permitted and the rules and regulations surrounding the activity.

The act came about because of campers who weren’t respectful or considerate of their neighbours, the public, and future campers.

Where Can I Freedom Camp?

Whether you book a motorhome with Mighway or choose to tent camp, more areas allow freedom camping than you might imagine. Freedom campers may stay in any public spot unless otherwise marked. These can be areas set off from the main roads, or can include Department of Conservation properties, as well as holiday parks and campgrounds.

The Department of Conservation, along with several others, came together to create Camping Our Way, a website that includes important information about freedom camping, as well as a map of locations. Additionally, the Freedom Camping Act includes a list of nine Great Walks Tracks; three on the north island and six on the south island. 

While many freedom camping locations offer public toilets, picnic tables, and rubbish bins, it’s helpful to check before you go so you don’t get caught out.

Freedom Camping Rules:

  • Use public or on-board toilets, not the bush.
  • Carry out your rubbish or use the provided bins. Leave no trace of your stay.
  • Respect private property and “No Camping” signs.
  • No chemicals, like clothes or dish detergents, soaps or toothpaste, in the waterways.
  • Dispose of motorhome waste at approved dump stations.
  • If in doubt, ask.

Check out our video of Tim’s favourite public toilets – a must-visit for any freedom camper!

Enjoy freedom camping with these tips and book your own Mighway campervan rental directly from a savvy owner.