Pinterest Twitter Facebook Instagram
backpackerboard
Travel Insurance
New Zealand Travel Tips & Questions

Where can I camp?

New Zealand is, simply put, camping heaven and when it comes to choosing the 'where' you have tons of choice on both islands if you have your own transport. This can be campervan or car and camping gear and some of the camp-sites in more built-up areas can be reached by public transport too.

Camping options broadly fall into five categories - the chain owned camp-sites such as Top 10, individually owned camp-sites, the 'My 5 Star Driveway' scheme which hooks up locals who have a cheap camp space available with potential campers, Department of Conservation (DoC) sites and wild camping. There is another option with the Gisborne District Council's wonderful summer camping scheme too which is the only one of its kind in all of New Zealand. This offers nine sites located in a string along the Eastland coast., all but one of which are absolute beach-front. As of 2018 permits cost NZ$66 for up to 28 nights camping making it one of the cheapest options out there – less than NZ$3 per night.

The Top 10 parks tend to have the most facilities but are typically the most expensive while the DoC sites usually veer towards being located in the most idyllic spots. Some of the most basic of this latter – which might just offer water from a stream and a toilet - are even free.

First stop in town for any potential camper should always be the local i-SITE because these tourist information centres are goldmines. Here you will be able to pick up brochures for the whole networks of Top 10s or Kiwi Holiday Parks while literature such as Jason's 'New Zealand Camping and Holiday Parks Guide' lists all kinds of choices. Flyers and leaflets for many of the other individually owned camp-sites in the area will also be there for you to browse through.

i-SITEs will also have any information about designated free camping spots in the area such as the lovely riverside one at Reid's Farm in Taupo.

Be aware though that some of the best gems are not advertised anywhere. The only way to find some of these is to drive around and keep your eyes peeled for some hand-painted rickety sign which says 'camping'.