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Freedom Camping in New Zealand

26th Jun 14
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The best thing about a campervan holiday is the freedom of choice – what you do, what you see and where you stay. While freedom camping is allowed in many parts of New Zealand, it is prohibited in some areas and there are certain rules that must be followed in order to avoid fines and help keep our country clean.

The Freedom Camping Act 2011

This law came into effect on the 29th of August. It states a $200 instant fine can be issued to those camping in restricted areas and a fine of up to $10,000 for incorrectly dumping sewerage.

Freedom is defined as camping outside of an establish camp ground within 200 m of a motor vehicle accessible area or the mean low-water springs line of any sea or harbour, or on or within 200 m of a formed road or a Great Walks Track. Freedom campers may stay in a tent or other temporary structure, caravan, car, campervan, house truck or other motor vehicle.

Restrictions

Sign saying that camping is not allowed at this location

Some local authorities have by-laws and restrictions in their area. While they can’t impose a blanket ban, some by-laws have been put in place to protect residents or the land. Many places are sign-posted with maps and information about where you may or may not be able to stay.

Main ones include:

  • Freedom camping is restricted to self-contained vehicles
  • Freedom camping is restricted to a maximum of three nights stay
  • Freedom camping is designated to specific car parks in a particular area
  • Freedom camping in a non-self-contained vehicle or tent is only permitted within 100m of a public toilet

The department of Conservation has an in-depth list of restricted/prohibited areas for freedom campers.

What does self-containment mean?For a vehicle to be certified as self-contained, it must be able to store all water, grey water and septic waste for a minimum of three days. Any plumber or certified person/authority can issue a compliance certificate.

All of our Sunrise Holidays campervans are certified as self-contained.

Be a responsible camper

Park your vehicle in a safe area, away from traffic, and lock doors at night. A popular saying is: “Take it in, take it out, and leave no trace.” This means any rubbish or waste you make should be deposited in the correct receptacle or taken with you and to tidy your area before you leave.

If you’re thinking about cooking over an open fire, make sure you research local fire restrictions and make sure your fire is as safe as possible by following these tips:

  • Keep a bucket or container of water/fire extinguisher handy
  • Surround your fire with a ring of rocks to keep the fire contained
  • Never leave the fire unattended
  • Completely extinguish the fire when finished – drown all embers/pour until hissing stops

Man cooking dinner in a fireplace

Only empty septic waste/waste water in designated areas (you’ll find these in designated camping grounds). The AA website has a complete list of all dump stations around the country. Refrain from washing clothes, dishes or yourself in waterways such as rivers or lakes – use amenities provided by campgrounds and holiday parks. If you have to drain cooking and washing water, use eco-friendly cleaning products and empty in soil well away from waterways.

Of course the most important rule of freedom camping is to enjoy yourself! By staying safe and being eco-friendly, you can avoid unnecessary fines and do your part to keep our environment clean and green for everyone to enjoy. Have you enjoyed a freedom camping holiday in New Zealand? Tell us about it in the comment section below.

Picture credits:
No Camping Sign by studio tds, CC-BY-2.0

Cooking up a meal by Vera & Jean-Christophe, CC-BY-SA-2.0

 

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Filed under New Zealand Travel

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