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Camping in New Zealand

Camping in New Zealand is one of the most popular past times, both for visitors and locals. And why not! Mountains, beaches, rivers and lakes – all perfect for a night under the stars, in a tent or motorhome.

Where can I camp?

In New Zealand you’ll find wide variety of camping options, from Department of Conservation (DOC) campsites to fully serviced holiday parks.  In many areas of the country Freedom Camping (camping in public places) is also allowed, but only in designated areas. Check first where these are, as otherwise you could be fined! Check our “where can I camp” information.                                                                                                        

How much does it cost?

  • Freedom camping sites are, well, free! But they typically have no services and you must have a self-contained vehicle.
  • DOC sites are based on a per person cost ranging from $6$15 per night per adult depending on facilities and services. Check more pricing on the Department of Conservation website.
  • Holiday parks, such as Top10, offer powered and non-powered tent or caravan sites. Prices vary but are roughly $30-$40 for a tent site, or $50 for a powered caravan or motorhome site. You’ll find better facilities here, such as hot showers, kitchen etc.

Is a tent or motorhome better?

Well, that’s totally up to you! Motorhomes are certainly popular in New Zealand and typically they are pretty easy to drive. And there is something to be said for having your “home” always with you.  One of the largest motorhome companies is Maui motorhomes with a large and modern fleet.  There are also a number of cheaper options, such as Jucy campervans.   Tents however are also hugely popular, simply cheaper and many prefer the “connection” with the outdoors.

Where can I buy gear?

As you’d expect, with New Zealanders being keen campers, there are a number of camping shops. The largest is a chain of stores through the main centres of New Zealand called Kathmandu. The gear is all their own brand, of a reasonable quality and generally affordable.  They have frequent sales, and really that is the best (only?) time to buy from them, with 50% off in many cases.  

Macpac also are another popular camping store, with many shops, and arguably slightly better quality than Kathmandu. Again, the gear is mostly their own brand and they have frequent sales. 

If you are looking for a mix of a house brand and name brand camping equipment, another good option is Torpedo 7, which has a strong online presence, but also a number of retail shops. Again, they have many sales, so lookout for deal.

Camping Safely

New Zealand generally is a very safe country to travel in, but like all travel, you do need to take precautions and plan your trip well. Most importantly, as an island nation New Zealand has changeable weather and you always need to be prepared. Even on short outdoor trips you should carry a waterproof jacket and warm clothing. For anything over a short walk, always let someone know where you are going and when you will be back.

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Hey there!

Get this information and more by downloading the free CamperMate app, New Zealands most comprehensive travel location database.

Travel smarter with CamperMate, the essential free New Zealand travel app that makes travelling around easier than ever before!


How to use the site?

Click the "Find a Location" button on the top left and select either 'Campgrounds for self-contained vehicles', or 'Campground for non self-contained vehicles' depending on if you have a toilet on board or not. Then look for these icons:

  • Free Campground Free
    *Self Contained vehicles only
  • Free Campground Low Cost (Under $15/night)
    *Self Contained vehicles only
  • Free Campground Paid (Over $15/night)
    *Self Contained vehicles only
  • Free Campground *if the icon has two vehicle types on it, it allows both self-contained and non self-contained vehicles.

Okay, got it!