11 Top Wild Camping Spots in New Zealand

Nestling in one tiny corner of the world, New Zealand is a strikingly beautiful country of magical proportions. It's jaw-dropping beauty, and picturesque terrain is a must on every traveler's bucket list. The kiwi land is also famous for adventure sports and other recreational activities. You can indulge in bird watching, wildlife safari, hiking, trekking, and lots more.

People flock to New Zealand to find peace among nature. A perfect way to find tranquility in solitude or in groups is to set up a wild camp among such magnificent flora and fauna.

Camping in New Zealand

Here are the best places for wild camping in New Zealand.

1. Scenic lake views at Bay of Islands


There is an enormous number of holiday parks and campsites at Matauri Bay which offers affordable camping. It is a popular spot for activities like deep-sea diving and swimming. It is quite a hit among families as the holiday park is easily accessible and provides the right safety measures. The main attraction is the scenic beach view. Pitching your tent around the beach with your better half makes the lake view even more captivating and romantic.

Kayaking is one of the better-known adventure sports in the country. It has earned great popularity at Urupukapuka Bay camping site over time. Every year, tourists flock here for camping and taking part in some great beach sports activities. Hiring a motorhome to such a vista is a great idea for those who want to go camping and experience a wilderness vibe.

Adventure geeks love this place because of the extraordinary snorkeling opportunity. This white sand beach bay offers a bunch of other water sports activities other than snorkeling which excites most water lovers. Moreover, as it has a campsite, you can save enough money on lodging, which you can later end up splurging on water-based adrenaline filled activities.

2. Exploring the unexplored Waiheke Island


If you are looking for campgrounds in Auckland, Waiheke Island in the Hauraki Gulf has enough attributes to be considered one of the possible terrestrial Eden. You can enjoy in kilometres of almost solitary beaches, mountain landscapes, a privileged climate almost all year round, and a dozen wineries. In the middle of the last century it became the home of many people who were looking for a much calmer life in this corner than they could have in towns like Auckland.

So there hippies, hermits, healers, ecologists and even fans of marijuana took refuge. Stay away from water in areas that are not patrolled or outside the patrolling hours. Every time you dip your feet in the sea, remember that is the beast you deal with.

The Poukaraka Flats Campground is vehicle accessible campground that offers all your necessary campsite amenities. Waiheke Island boasts of a rich history of Maori culture and European settlement dating back to the early 1600s. This child-friendly biodiversity hotspot attracts a lot of bird watchers too.

Untapped bays and inlets around the region make it a heaven for the thrill-seeking kayakers to explore. Parking your Campervan along the beach is an excellent option for relaxation and rejuvenation.

3. Trekking at Coromandel


The pristine sandy beach at Fantail Bay also boasts of lush green Pohutukawa trees along its periphery. It makes for a stunning view of the ocean for campers. The beach is ideal for swimming during the day and throwing in a bonfire with a barbecue at night. There are walking tracks around the beach that would interest trekkers and hikers.

4. Christchurch


Christchurch promises an eclectic combination of historical elegance and contemporary culture as the most English city outside of England. As an entrance to the South Island, it is an essential stop on any itinerary. An unmissable activity is to take the famous TranzAlpine train that will take you through the Southern Alps and through thick masses of native beech forest.

5. Akaroa


Akaroa is the crater of an extinct volcano. Akaroa offers countless activities, but perhaps the most remarkable is swimming with Hector dolphins. This species of dolphin is one of the smallest and rarest of the world. Unfortunately they are almost on the verge of extinction.

6. Hanmer Springs


Northwest of Christchurch, is Hanmer Springs, a small alpine village that has hot springs.

7. Kaikoura


Kaikoura is located on the east coast of the South Island, 180 kilometers north of the city of Christchurch. At the southern end of the city is the Kaikoura Peninsula, which, when entering the sea, causes marine currents to drag abundant animal life from the nearby Hikurangi Trench.

Due to the proximity of this pit and the abundance of food, Kaikoura is the ideal place to spot sperm whales, Dusky dolphins, sea lions, albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters. Kaikoura has a dark history as the whaling capital of New Zealand. However, today, Kaikoura is known for its amazing eco-tour boasting one of New Zealand finest marine wildlife and proudly protecting them and the ecosystems. Also, take the path that will take you to the viewpoint of Mount Fyffe.

8. Aoraki Mount Cook National Park


Aoraki or Mount Cook is the highest mountain in New Zealand. At night, the view of the sky from the area offers one of the clearest views in the world.

9. Dunedin


30 km from Omaru and 85 km north of Dunedin, the wonderful Moeraki Boulders or Moeraki rocks are scattered on the beach. On this deserted New Zealand beach you can see these strange and giant stones formed 65 million years ago.

10. Marlborough


The Marlborough region is also famous for its vineyards, highlighted and awarded worldwide for the Sauvignon Blanc variety.

11. Invercargill


Invercargill is at the southern tip of the South Island and one of the southernmost in the world. Invercargill is the starting point to visit the port city of Bluff popularly known for its oysters. This is the settlement located further south on the South Island.

Best time to Visit New Zealand for wild camping


According to the geographical records, summer temperature in New Zealand averages at 20-25 degree Celsius. The best months to explore wild camping opportunities is from March to June. The region is dry and sunny during the summers, which makes it very conducive to camping. However, camping during monsoons and winters are usually given a miss. The surroundings become patchy and chilly from July to January, respectively.

What are the ways to Wild Camp in New Zealand?


There are two ways you can Freedom Camp or Wild Camp in New Zealand. Both have a particular set of guidelines that you should keep in mind.

Self Contained Vehicle

You can choose to camp out in a Motorhome or Campervan. If you are camping out in a Campervan, your vehicle must meet the 'Caravan Self Contained Vehicle Standard.' That is an NZSF 5465 Certificate issued for the vehicle with an appropriate blue sticker to show for it. This suggests you must equip your Campervan with:

  • A functioning toilet
  • Freshwater storage capability for at least 3 days
  • Wastewater storage capability for at least 3 days
  • Trash bin with a lid
  • Other essential motorhome accessories

Now that you have obtained a certified camper van, you are free to camp around District Council Land & Department of Conservation Land (DOC) Land. However, the rules and regulations about wild camping vary according to a specific council or DOC land. For instance, some districts will not allow freedom camping within a 1-kilometer radius of the town, or you may not have permission to camp for more than 1 night in your van. You can obtain reliable information regarding where you can camp on the local council's website.

Non-Self Contained Vehicle

If you are camping in a tent or a Campervan without 'Self Contained Vehicle Certificate,' then you need to shack up at a designated site that allows freedom camping for only non-self contained vehicles. These are free campsites with a parking lot and a toilet nearby. This definitely restricts your campsite options as compared to a certified Campervan.

Overall, you have the right to enjoy the beauty of the country provided you act responsibly and cause no harm to the environment.

Conclusion

Since wild camping is usually filled with road trips, roof racks on your Campervan or Motorhome solves luggage storage issues. Also, essentials like mosquito repellents, tents, disposal baskets, gloves, water bottles, first aid kits, sunscreen are a must when you are so close to untamed nature.

New Zealand is the best place to channel the wanderlust in you. The land of the great white cloud - as the Maori's popularly call it, has a lot to offer thrill seekers, families, and couples alike.
Kalyan Panja