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The Camping Guide in New Zealand.

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Presentation.

  • 1Camping in New Zealand With a Camper Van.
  • 2Paid Campsites From Wheelaway Holidays.
  • 3Campsites in National Parks (Free or Paid).
  • 4Private Camping Rentals (Okay 2 Stay).
  • 5Freedom Camping
  • 6Some Expert Advice About Camping in New Zealand.

1Camping in New Zealand With a Camper Van.

New Zealand is the country of the camper van.

New Zealand is known to be the country of the camper van, with high-quality facilities spread throughout the country to accommodate travelers. This guide is mainly for people traveling by motorhome, campers or mini vans, searching for beautiful campsites to spend the night and connect their vehicles to a power supply.

Campsites can be crowded during the high season: If you do not want to spend a good part of your stay driving endlessly to find a place to park your vehicle, you must locate and book the best campsites long before departure.

If some campsites are free, most of them (and usually the best) are to be paid. In return, they are mostly located in the countryside among dream landscapes.

The price depends on the number of passengers and their age (reduced price for children, and free for babies), but there are also free campsites you should use to save money.

The Different Solutions for Camping.

You have to find a place to park the camper van to spend the night.

There are four recommended solutions for camping in New Zealand, valid if you sleep under the stars or in a camper van:

  • The Holiday parks of excellent quality, managed by Wheelaway.
  • The Basic camping in national parks managed by the DOC.
  • The Private camping (okay 2 stay).
  • The Freedom camping which is free, but increasingly regulated.

There is something you must know: it is difficult to realize an entire stay without having to pay from one time to another to spend a night. Motorhomes must be plugged to a power supply to recharge their batteries, and sooner or later you will be happy to enjoy a hot shower.


To shower in a campsite is nice, but to shower with hot water is even better. This is a detail that deserves to be double-checked before choosing a camping where to spend the night.

You can enjoy showers in most campsites.

Paying Camping

Discover the presentation of a paid campsite recommended by Kiwipal.

A video of Motueka Top10 Holiday Park

The art of camping in New Zealand is to alternate the free and paid locations, which is not difficult if you follow Kiwipal's advice.

In contrast, an unorganized motorhome trip can be more expensive than expected and you might regret not having opted for a car tour and hotel nights. This exhaustive guide presents each camping solution in detail to help you organize your stay.

And in conclusion, I will introduce the essential mobile apps to plan your itinerary in New Zealand.


The rates indicated in this folder are in New Zealand dollars, but just move the mouse cursor or click an amount to view its equivalent in your currency.


2Paid Campsites From Wheelaway Holidays.

Paying campsites make traveling easier.

There are several large chain of paid campsite in New Zealand, the two most prominent being Top10 and Holiday Parks. In addition to these strong solutions, you can find a wide variety of independent campsites with a variable quality (capable of the best and the worst).

Each campsite, even within a same chain, fixes its own rates and offers a variety of subscription cards or promotions based on the number of nights booked: a lack of consistency which does not facilitate the organization of the stay! Fortunately, the “Wheelaway Holidays” solution recommended by Kiwipal simplify everything.

How to Book Before Departure?

Fortunately, Kiwipal suggests two simple and effective methods for booking campsites.

Kiwipal gives you access to a New Zealand's local service known“Wheelaway Holidays” which gathers the best campsites in New Zealand, with locations in every great tourism area in the country. You can book several campsites at the same time through a secure payment form.

But you can also book prepaid vouchers, valid in the whole camping network and that you can use whenever you want.

Wheelaway Holidays allows you to book camping grounds to park your camper van.

Warning: these two offers are designed solely for travelers visiting the country with a "self-contained" vehicle, a standard certifying that the vehicle can hold its waste water for at least three days.


For more details, read our special motorhome guide.

Solution 1: Booking Specific Camping.

Kiwipal advises you to book your campsites before departure.

This solution consists to select camping on a map, while specifying the desired reservation date for each night. You pay online all reservations at the same time and travel with a free mind. You also keep the possibility to cancel your order if needed. However, the amount refunded depends on the proximity with the booking date, and the sooner you cancel and the more you will be refunded.


Here is the refund policy:

Cancellation Refund
15 days in advance and more 100 % of the order
8 to 14 days in advance 90 % of the order
0-7 days in advance No refund
Absence on the agreed date (no show) No refund

These conditions are subject to change without notice.

Solution 2: Buying Prepaid Vouchers.

Prepaid vouchers can be used whenever you want.

This second solution involves purchasing vouchers (valid throughout the entire campsites network) that you can print and use whenever you want.

Each coupon is valid for one night and cannot be exchanged or refunded.

Every “open date vouchers”, have the same value, but they do not guarantee a place in a campsite, especially at the last minute. There must be an available ground for your vehicle. That's why I recommend to always confirm your arrival at least 24 hours in advance.

Prepaid vouchers can be used in every campsite of the Wheelaway Holidays network.

But the main benefit of vouchers is to allow you to keep your freedom during the stay! If the weather turns bad, and to the express condition that you have no other commitment to respect, you retain the ability to change your route: a flexibility that perfectly matches the spirit of the camper van.


Here is the table price for prepaid vouchers (you will notice a small difference between low and high season):

Rate Low season High season
Two adults $50 $53
One additional adult $22 $26,5
One child (2-14 years) $18 $18
One baby Free Free

Reception & Schedules.

The Wheelaway Holidays campsites respect the classic hotel schedules in New Zealand, with a reception open from 8 am to 8 pm (7pm during low season). However, you can negotiate a late arrival if you notify the staff in advance (but a surcharge may apply).

The Services Provided by Wheelaway Holidays.

Top 10

Here is an example of a campsite available in the Top10 Network.

A video of Weka Digital Media NZ

In addition to providing power supply to recharge vehicles in electricity, the camping network provides complimentary services, such as access to a shared kitchen, hot showers and often a swimming pool!


Please find below a table that summarize the main services (a detailed description comes right after).

Service Included
Place reserved for camper van yes
Power supply yes
Dump station yes
Drinking water yes
Hot showers yes
Shared kitchen yes
Recreational area and barbecue yes
Security & monitoring yes
Launderette $4 / cycle and $1 per dryer
Gas Bottle Refill yes, but charged separately
WiFi yes, but charged separately
Pool and / or spa yes, but charged separately

Power Supply.

Wheelaway Holidays campsites offer parkings equipped with power outlets. Once the camper connected, you recharge the auxiliary battery as well as your smartphones and tablets. You can finally use energy consuming devices, such as the oven or heating on some less powerful camper van models.

Gas Bottle Refill.

Most motorhomes are equipped with LPG gas bottles, essential to provide energy for the mini kitchen's stove, the heating system and, of course, the hot water for the shower. Most campgrounds allow gas bottles refill, but the service is always charged as an extra.

Pool and Spa.

Swimming pools are sometimes included in the booking, but are usually proposed as a paid option, like the spa services if available.

Internet Access.

Internet access is almost always proposed as a paying option. An annoying practice, but which is not dictated by greed, because New Zealand is still far from having high broadband capacity on the entire territory: a situation that should change in the coming years with the programmed deployment of the optical fiber.

Washing Machine.

If the laundry is not free, the price is fortunately quite cheap (expect $4 per cycle and an additional $1 for the dryer). The only real problem is that you have to queue during the high season if the campsite is crowded.

Dump Station.

Each campsite can store the wastewater and you can drain the camper van in few minutes before filling the tank with drinking water.

Kiwipal's Opinion About Wheelaway Holidays.

The BBQ (nicknamed barbies here) is a real institution in New Zealand. Follow the Kiwis exammple and after buying sausages in the local supermarket, improvise a good barbecue in a campsite.

The barbecue is a real institution in New Zealand.

With pleasant or gorgeous surroundings, always located close to the main wonders of the country, the Wheelaway Holidays' camping selection is truly exceptional.

You always know what to expect, with clean facilities and friendly staff at your service.

The atmosphere is very friendly, with groups that form around improvised barbecues to taste sausages bought at the local supermarket. An undeniable advantage if one wants to make friends, but a potential downside if one is trying to escape screaming children during the days and want nothing but calm in the evenings.


The improvised barbecues allow you to meet New Zealanders and share a good time by discovering the local culture.

Campsites facilitate meetings with New Zealanders.

Holiday park

Complete presentation of a Holiday Park campsite.

A HolidayParksNZ video

It is best to avoid the paid campsites during school holidays if one seeks tranquility above all. That said, the most isolated campsites are quiet. Of course, there is always the risk to endure the invasion of a noisy tourist groups, but the clientele is usually fairly discreet after 9pm.

Booking Wheelaway Holidays' campgrounds facilitate the organization of your stay and allows you to fully enjoy your holidays.

In summary, if your budget allows it, the solution “Wheelaway Holidays” removes the unexpected and allows to visit the country in the best conditions when you travel in a camper van, with perhaps a slight monotony (there are no real surprises from one camping to another). That's why I recommend not put all your eggs in one basket, and to alternate with other campsites solutions that I'm going to present right now.


You can also rent bungalows at campsites.


3Campsites in National Parks (Free or Paid).

There are plenty of free campsites in New Zealand, but what is free is not always an advantage because you can not shower or recharge the campervan battery. It is therefore necessary to alternate between the free and the paid during the whole stay.

There are free campsites, but of very variable quality.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) manages the National parks of New Zealand and the campsites within it. The traveler who is organizing his own stay might believe to have found the Holy Grail of camping ... but if there are indisputable reasons to be happy, one must not celebrate so fast!

The DOC provides a search engine to help you locate campsites in national parks. A practical tool whose consultation is quite slow (New Zealand is after all at 18,000 km from Europe).

Contrary to what one can read on the Internet, the DOC's campsites are far from being all free, and they are even paid ones most of the time!

There are actually four types of DOC's campsites that can accommodate vehicles including motorhomes.


Before introducing each category of DOC camping, here is a summary table of the different rates:

DOC Camping Price per adult Price per child Price per baby
Basic Free Free Free
Backcountry $6 (variable) $3 (variable) Free
Standard $6 $3 Free
Scenic $10 $5 Free
Serviced $15 $7,5 Free

Basic Camping (Free).

There are no complementary services for campgrounds and there is often no camping table. There are of course no showers or power supply to recharge the vehicle with electricity.

The basic campsite has dry toilets and drinking water.

If these campsites are free, it's because there are nothing but dry toilets and water taps on location. Of course, you won't be able to plug your motorhome to a power supply.

To prevent the fifty camping distributed throughout the whole country from turning into dumps, only the camper vans certified “self contained” are allowed to park there.

Free access attracts many people, and it won't be easy to find a place during the high season (Dec-Mar).

While it is theoretically possible to spend every night without paying a dime, free camping attracts a crowd of tourists and finding a free spot in summer may be difficult. It is definitely a good deal during the low season, but you can’t rely on this trick the whole year. A solution to handle with care!


All free campsites are not accessible to vehicles or do not routinely accept motorhomes: you must check before!

Backcountry camping (Paid).

The backcountry campgrounds of the Department of Conservation (DOC) cost only a few miserable dollars. At this price, the facilities remain spartan and there are not even showers.

The backcountry campsite has a few additional camping tables.

Let's switch without delay to the paid category, which offers minor improvements compared to free campsites. The presence of picnic tables is the only significant difference, with the availability of some kitchen utensils (but, if you are traveling in a motorhome fully equipped, this service is not needed).

Backcountry camping is cheap, but the facilities are spartan.

The “Backcountry” is to be paid, up to $6 per adult and $3 per child, but the price varies from one location to another.

As it is already less crowded than the free camping, you're more likely to find a place to park, but backcountry attracts mostly unorganized travelers who found nowhere else to go.

So this is a solution to be considered in unforeseen circumstances, but without forgetting that you won't find any power supply on location.

Standard Camping (Paid).

DOC's standard campgrounds have cold showers, which may be appropriate in the summer, but it takes some courage for the rest of the year!

The standard DOC campground offers only cold showers.

Well located but crowded during the high season, these campsites cost a bit more than the Backcountry ones and you'll spend an average of $8 per adult and $5 per child to park there.

Good news! you'll finally find power supplies there, but in limited quantity! The presence of toilets and showers will be appreciated if your motorhome is not equipped.

A relative advantage because the showers only provide cold water! You won't be surprised if I say that this solution is not to be considered during winter, especially if your motorhome isn't equipped withe heating and hot showers.


The presence of power supply sources is not systematic!

Scenic Camping (Paid).

If the showers remain desperately cold in the scenic campsites of the DOC, on the other hand the location is much more pleasant, with splendid panoramas.

The scenic campgrounds of the DOC are located in magnificent settings.

These are very desirable locations, even if they do not offer more services than standard campsites, but they are located in the heart of exceptional panoramas.

The beautiful scenery makes you forget the lack of installations, even if the price reaches $10 per adult and $5 per child (with an increase of $3 for connection to the electricity if it is available, with limited places) . Nevertheless, these camping should be your first target if you want to save money, because they offer a good compromise.

Serviced Camping (Paid).

DOC campgrounds fully equiped are necessarily more expensive, but the hot showers are available and there are power supplies to recharge the battery of the camper.

The fully equipped DOC campgrounds are interesting but costs more.

The “Serviced Campsite” is almost equivalent to paid campsites from Top 10 and Holiday Parks, with beautiful landscapes as a bonus.

There are hot showers, real toilets, laundries, kitchens and picnic tables.

The rate increase is important, and you will have to pay $15 per adult and $7,5 per child. A rate that may be increased by a few dollars if you want a power supply for your camper van.

This is indeed the most interesting camping solution of the country (without Internet access however) and one of the most popular in New Zealand.

These campsites from the DOC have nothing to envy to the best campsites in the country, but you cannot book them!

Perfect? Alas, no! because it is impossible to book a place! Under these conditions, you cannot bet on this solution without taking risk. To deal with any eventuality, you must always have a plan B based on the other solutions presented in this guide.

Kiwipal's Opinion About DOC Campsites.

The DOC campsites are interesting because they are free or pay for a few dollars. But it is difficult to realize the whole stay by relying on this simple solution.

DOC campsites allow you to stay in contact with nature.

Whether free or paid, the 200 campsites DOC will accommodate their customers on a first come, first serve basis.

You cannot therefore rely on this solution at 100%, and I advise you to always identify in advance a secondary camping, just in case there would be no more space available to accommodate you with your camper.

Despite its defaults, the DOC campsite is a classic, and I do not see how one could make a full road trip in New Zealand without using them at least a few times.


You should include some DOC campsites in the itinerary of your campervan trip. These New Zealand campgrounds are often gorgeous and they help to save money on your vacation budget.

You should include some DOC campsites in your itinerary.

Above all, the scenic beauty and the peaceful surroundings are marvelous.

It is also an opportunity to meet the locals who know the area by the heart and can advise you about the best activities. There are, of course, some disadvantages! If you have read the description of each kind of camping, you already know that the shower will be cold or even absent except in equipped campsites (which are the most expensive, by the way).

Remember that your camper must be autonomous (self-contained) to be allowed in free camping managed by the DOC!

Consequently, and to the extent that one does not always find power supply, your camper need to be fully loaded before your arrival, otherwise you can forget your hot shower in the late afternoon after a long trek!

Do You Need the Discount Card?

The discount card is interesting if you spend several consecutive nights in DOC campsites because it is valid for 7 consecutive days and its usage can not be fragmented during the whole stay.

The DOC discount card may not be suitable for your stay.

If you decide to organize your stay by using the DOC campsites for several nights, you may consider buying a discount card from the Department of Conservation, which can be profitable quickly. The card represents a 50% saving on average compared to the regular price.


Here are the rates, variable depending on the number of travelers:

Travelers Price
One adult $20
Two adults $40
2 adults + 2 children (5-17 years) $60
Child less than 5 years old Free

But in practice, the pass is mostly interesting for New Zealanders on holiday and less attractive for travelers in a road trip, because it is only valid for seven consecutive nights!

Of course, you can switch from one category of camping to another, but that implies anyway that you spend seven consecutive nights in the DOC campsites (assuming they are not complete).

A process that goes against the solution recommended by Kiwipal, which is to alternate between free and paid campsites.

To fully benefit of the discounts, it is necessary to chain seven consecutive nights in the DOC campsites

Insofar the card is only valid at the campsites from the categories “standard” or “ scenic ”, you won't always be able to connect your motorhome to a power supply (to charge the auxiliary battery).

And if the campsites you are interested in are not equipped with hot showers, it may be a good deal on the paper, but that won't suit everyone in reality!

Despite these drawbacks, the discount remains interesting because even if you waste a few nights on the seven allowed, you still save some money and you pay standard rate otherwise.


You can get the discount card at the best price on the site of Rankers, an English-speaking guide on New Zealand which publishes a very good mobile application about the country.

The DOC discount card can be purchased from the Rankers site.

If you want to get this discount card, you can order it online from authorized retailers because the DOC itself does not sell it directly to foreign travelers.

I recommend you to buy the pass on Rankers' website, where you will only be asked to specify your model of motorhomes. The pass is to be printed, then displayed prominently on the windscreen of the vehicle where it will be checked by the DOC camping staff on location.

The pass is personal and is activated at first use, allowing you to buy it in advance and to start using it later whenever you want. You'll just have to write the activation date on the pass with a pen.


The full list of campgrounds for which the pass is valid is available on this page.

Buy a DOC discount card

4Private Camping Rentals (Okay 2 Stay).

To camp in a private land, you can become member of the Okay 2 Stay network. You can then park on farms or vineyards for example.

Camping in private properties grows in New Zealand.

I had bet ten years ago that the growth of tourism in New Zealand would accelerate the development of camping managed by locals. I was right, because there is now a great solution for travelers in camper vans!

Okay 2 Stay offers you to park your motorhome in the fields of small olive producers, honey, cheese, fruit, coffee ... and even beer or wine!

Almost free to be precise, because you need a membership card and you must commit to buy at least one product from the business you are visiting.

Okay 2 stay is a perfect example of responsible tourism where everybody wins.

Okay 2 stay is a perfect example of “responsible tourism”, where each traveler lives an authentic experience while helping a small producer to live his passion.

Of course, the service cannot compete with true paid campings! The lack of amenities requires a “self-contained” camper van.

How to Register at Okay 2 Stay?

You can park overnight at one of the addresses of the Okay 2 Stay network if you buy a product from a farm.

The Okay 2 Stay network is a perfect to meet locals.

Although some places are not open all year, there is room to build an exceptional gastronomic route.

To give you an idea, I suggest you look at the website of “Mike Organic Brewry” an excellent brewer from Taranaki that welcomes you on his property.

The annual membership for a motorhome (regardless of the number of passengers) costs only $45 for the year (with no commitment or automatic renewal) and grants unlimited access to 115 camping distributed throughout the country (69 on the North Island and 46 on the South Island).

The Okay 2 Stay 2 network currently includes more than a hundred camping grounds in New Zealand.

To make yourself an idea, you can check the distribution of the camping on a general map, but without accurate contact information (you will gain access to contacts after the sign-up process).

You also benefit from the possibility to read the reviews from other registered members to make your choice. Of course, you cannot consider building your entire itinerary on this unique camping solution. One must plug the camper to a power supply sooner or later, which is unfortunately not yet possible in the okay 2 stay network.

But this original approach allows you to meet New Zealanders, discovering quality products while making great savings on yourholiday budget.

The Instructions to Follow.

To be accepted into the Okay 2 Stay network you must accept to purchase at least one of the products manufactured at the address or you are going, and you must be discreet.

User-friendliness is a basic rule of Okay 2 Stay.

The welcome is usually very warm and friendly but using a professional's domain to spend the night does not come without some basic common rules. This is a place where people work, you cannot just come and go everywhere as you please.

You must thus remain in the assigned area and be discreet, not letting children running around in complete freedom, because no professional wants his property to looks like a campground in the eyes of regular customers.

You must follow some simple rules to avoid impeding the activity of the professional.

You cannot either invest the place anytime like you would in a hotel. If there is no conventional booking service, you still need to contact your host the day before your arrival (to notify your schedule).

Once on location, you should introduce yourself at reception and you must not park in the property spontaneously without knowing the places reserved for motorhomes.

Present your membership card and the landlord will explain how to proceed with a smile.

Kiwipal's Opinion About Okay 2 Stay.

Okay2stay

Watch a presentation of the Okay2Stay service.

A video of readerwriter

Producers who adhere to the program do so for the pleasure of the exchange with travelers.

For the network to live, you must purchase at least one product (a beer bottle, a lavender sachet, a fresh cheese ...), but I assure you, there is no expensive products. That said, the prospect of saving money should not be your only motivation!

Do not sign up if you are just searching for a place to park your vehicle without speaking to anyone.


In summary, here are the main advantages of the okay 2 stay solution:

  • Unbeatable price (except if one opts for Freedom camping)
  • Allows to avoid the crowd and travel off-track
  • Facilitates the organization of a truly gastronomic stay
  • Provides perfect quiet nights
  • Allows to meet locals and share their passion
  • Warm welcome
  • Discovery of local products of each region
  • Unlimited yearly access without commitment

And to be the devil's advocate, here are the main disadvantages of the okay 2 stay solution:

  • Lacks a real booking system
  • Phone or the Internet needed to signal your arrival
  • Lack of amenities (showers, toilets)
  • No power supply available
  • No Internet access (with some exceptions, however)
  • Exclusively reserved for “self-contained” vehicles

Despite these imperfections, okay2Stay is Kiwipal's crush, one of our favorite solutions.

This is a service I do not hesitate to describe as essential if one wants to meet New Zealanders during his vacation.

However, if your budget is too tight, it is even possible to give a chance to Freedom camping.


5Freedom Camping

Freedom camping is more and more regulated in New Zealand and tourist areas increasingly prohibit it. But it is still possible to park freely all over the country.

Freedom camping is increasingly regulated in New Zealand.

“Freedom camping” was originally the main reason behind the success of the camper-van, but the situation has evolved in New Zealand, and if Freedom Camping is still alive, it is no longer what it used to be.

Wild camping consists of using a free site to plant your tent or park your camper van ... if you are authorized to do so, of course!

New Zealand has always been a safe haven for Freedom camping, but the situation has evolved since the past ten years.

The development of tourism and the rise of bad behaviors committed by a minority of stupid travelers forced the authorities to react. Exasperated by the greasy papers and the trash, some regions decided to vote a prohibition against Freedom camping at the proximity of the most tourist areas.


If you bypass the camping ban, you are subject to a fine of $ 200 which must be paid on the spot.

Unauthorized camping is subject to a $ 200 fine.

Cynics will say that the prohibition of camping is primarily motivated by greed. A selective ban, essentially targeting the major tourist areas of the country, such as Rotorua, Queenstown or Wanaka… But if there is perhaps some truth in this claim, one must recognize that the motorhomes parked anywhere in the country were altering the beauty of the dream landscapes.

Parking in a prohibited location is liable to $ 200 fine.

The amount of the fine fixed at about $200 must be paid immediately or within eight days (depending on the region). Non-payment leads to prosecution and one could be blocked at the airport beforeleaving the country if a customs officer consult the register of offenses (which is also available for fines resulting from a non-respect of the driving Code).


List of the main tourist areas where freedom camping is prohibited.

Is It Still Possible to Camp for Free?

Freedom camping remains legal in a great part of the country. On the other hand, the very tourist areas have now banned it.

Freedom camping remains legal in a large part of the country.

Freedom camping is still legal in most of the country. Contrary to what one might think, tourist centers (iSites) are always happy to indicate the locations where you can park for free.

However, improvising a campsite in the wilderness involves not relying on the absence of any prohibition signs.

When in doubt, always ask the owner's permission if he lives nearby, or the advice of a local resident. A great advice that remains valid even in town.

When in doubt, you should not park and search another place.

Please note that if the backpackers have always exchanged tips on good locations, they travel mostly in mini vans which are more discreet than motorhomes. The police run night patrols and you would not be the first to be awakened by the flashlight of a police officer.

Kiwipal’s Opinion About Freedom Camping.

Spending the night in a camper van in the parking lot of a supermarket exposes you to a fine. But you must especially ask yourself if you are coming to New Zealand to spend nights in such conditions. This is why you must organize your trip a minimum in advance so as not to be caught off guard on the spot.

Did you come to New Zealand to camp on a parking lot?

Low-end campsites are cheap, and the Department of Conservation even offers fifty free camping grounds.

One does not come to New Zealand to drive for hours in search of a proper camping to park the vehicle or to spend a night on a supermarket car park!

The beautiful land located along a nice river looks like a bargain... But one does not compromise with the notion of private property in New Zealand, and the authorities know from experience what are the places to control by night. The need to improvise on location is often a proof of an itinerary hastily organized.

There are enough solutions to enjoy camping for a cheap price, there is no reason to risk a fine with Freedom camping.

I therefore recommend the Freedom camping only if one takes the time ensure that the parking is allowed. By leaving the place even cleaner before leaving, we might escape the outright ban of Freedom camping, which is unfortunately on the horizon!


6Some Expert Advice About Camping in New Zealand.

For a successful camping experience, Kiwipal recommends you to vary the pleasures by experiencing different types of campsites.

The important thing is to vary the pleasures and types of camping.

It would be tempting to organize an entire stay based on the same type of camping. For example, you could spend every night in the free DOC campsites or in the paid Holiday Parks. But I advise you to mix pleasure and build your itinerary by alternating free and paid solutions.

When considering a trip in a motorhome the first time, most people generally assume that the vehicle rental will be the sole expense of the stay.

In practice, it is often necessary to book paid camping nights, and the reputation of the camping, supposed to be the cheapest solution to visit New Zealand, is a kind of exaggerated.

For if it is possible to make an entire stay in free campgrounds, such holidays are like an obstacle course with a great deal of time spent to find places to park the vehicle.

A young couple without children could consider such a Spartan trip, but without hot showers neither electricity, it can turn out to be a nightmare for most travelers.

The more you try to save money, the more the trip is difficult to organize. One must find a compromise!

Nevertheless, a well-organized motorhome trip is cheaper than a road trip by car with hotel nights.

Mostly because the price of a campsite is more affordable, but also because you will spend (waste?) less money in restaurants.

And the more the number of passengers increases, the more the price decline! Therefore, one must accept the idea of paying sometimes to save time and enjoy beautiful facilities within the best tourist locations.

The holidays will be more enjoyable and you will keep better memories... this is part of the game in a way.

How to Build a Good Itinerary?

To recharge the auxiliary battery of the camper, simply connect the vehicle to an AC outlet using the cable provided by the rental company.

Paying campgrounds are essential to recharge the battery.

You must find a balance between the free campsites of the DOC, and the paid campsites or Holiday Parks which are better located on the map, more comfortable and allow to plug a camper van to a power supply.

For example, you could book the 2/3 of your stay with the “Wheelaway Holidays” and fill the gaps in your schedule with free nights in the Department of Conservation's camping.

You have plenty of choice to build your camping itinerary in New Zealand.

Or else, you can also subscribe to the “Okay 2 Stay” service and punctuate your stay with gourmet steps. Meeting true locals would make your trip even more interesting.

Whatever the solution chosen, you must build your own itinerary all by yourself rather than asking a third party to do it for you! Of course, you can seek inspiration among our list of well-crafteditineraries, which intend to present the must-do of New Zealand, but the choice the campsites should always be personal, otherwise you may lose the charm of a motorhome trip!

You must be the master on board, which means not to delegate the organization of your stay to a travel agency!

How to Find Great Campsites?

Kiwipal recommends Campermate or Rankers to organize your stay in New Zealand. Available on iPhone and Android, these two applications list the best campsites in the country as well as petrol stations or supermarkets.

Campermate and Rankers mobile apps are essential.

For New Zealand campsites you have plenty of choice. But do not be afraid, because there are handy mobile applications (for smartphones and tablets) to help you find campsites in New Zealand.

At Kiwipal, we have tested every New Zealand app, and only two of them are reliable enough to allow you to organize a motorhome itinerary, and improvise on location if necessary!

Paid apps from CamperMate and Rankers are of equivalent quality and receive frequent content updates.

All campgrounds are listed, as well as gas stations and dump stations. Buying a single application will do, and you can even use it without an Internet connection.


Download Rankers for iOS
Download Rankers for Android
Download Campermate for iOS
Download Campermate for Android

The Camper Van Etiquette.

The rise of tourism in New Zealand has been accompanied by bad behaviors from a minority of visitors. As a traveler, you are an ambassador of your country and your exemplary behavior will help to preserve the beauty of the landscapes.

Always be environmentally friendly in New Zealand.

To conclude this guide, and whatever your choice of camping, there are basic rules that you should always follow during your trip to New Zealand.


  • Respect the environment
  • Introduce yourself to other campers
  • Respect the allocated space
  • Be discreet day and night
  • Do not unpack your things while other campers sleep

Once your itinerary established, you need to book your motorhome.

Kiwipal provides a comparator and an easy way to book online.

You'll get a vehicle rental with unlimited mileage, free cancellation and the guarantee of the lowest price on the market!

If you have any question about campsites, do not forget to look below at the question and answer section managed by our friend Ben the Kiwi.

I wish you a great stay in New Zealand!


William, Kiwipal
A Guide Written by William.
Founder of Kiwipal, New Zealand Travel Guide.
william

Questions & Answers.

What can I do for you? Campers in New Zealand and wake up in the heart of the most beautiful landscapes of the world ... do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Ask a question to Ben

  • All topics ... 8 answers in total
  • The Fines 5 answers
  • Booking Campsites 3 answers

The Fines

  • What is the fine for parking prohibited?

    The fine is $200 if you are parked at a site forbidden to the motorhome, day or night.

  • Am I obliged to pay my fines?

    Yes, and you can claim an immediate payment or under a week. Not paying its fines is a misdemeanor, and exposes you to prosecution.

  • What happens if I leave the country without paying my fines?

    Assuming that you can leave the country without paying your fines, you run the risk of being prosecuted. If Justice does not apply outside the country, you will nevertheless appear on a list and will not be able to return to New Zealand without incurring a more severe sanction.

  • Can we refuse to pay the fine?

    If you do not cooperate with the agent (for example, by refusing to declare your identity), the fine will automatically increase from $200 to $500. New Zealanders do not joke with freedom camping in the forbidden zone.

  • Do we risk fines by night?

    Yes, and it is a specialty of the local police who knows perfectly the forbidden camping grounds that usually attract the campers.

Booking Campsites

  • What are the major chains of camping?

    The country's four major paying camp sites are Holiday Parks, Top 10, Kiwi Holidays and Family Parks. The Department of Conservation (DOC), although it manages nearly 200 campsites, is not strictly speaking a chain.Top 10Holiday ParksKiwi Holiday ParksFamily Parks

  • What is Qualmark?

    It is an official scale to assess the quality of service providers in the tourism sector in New Zealand, whether hotels, campsites or leisure activities. The star rating from one to five is not directly transposable to that established in Europe. Nevertheless and even if the award of a single star is not in itself a guarantee of poor quality, I recommend the booking of establishments rated with three to five stars.

  • Can you book the campsites for me?

    No, because our philosophy is to help travelers organize their stay in New Zealand themselves to avoid paying travel agency fees. Rest assured, camping reservations are no problem if you follow our advice.

Guillaume picture in the mountains

Ask Questions to William.

New Zealand Expert

The camping option is often sought after by travelers with a tight budget, but it is also a way of life.

Provided you organize properly, you can limit the stopovers in the paid campsites and travel almost for free.

This guide explains how to find the best camping grounds, nestled in the heart of the most beautiful scenery of New Zealand.

Motorhome drivers will also find their happiness with practical tips to organize the stages of their journey.

william Ask me a question

Useful Links

More information about the subject before leaving.

Guillaume picture in the mountains

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