One of the big attractions of living in New Zealand is the outdoor lifestyle and campervanning culture. It’s hard to imagine a better country than New Zealand for camping and caravanning outdoors. Spending your holidays campervanning down under is a bucket list item for many travelers with good reason: Zipping around the North and South Island in a motorhome or RV and spending the night under the stars in a freedom campsite is a rewarding and memorable experience.
So, before you get on that flight from London to New Zealand, here are some of the freedom camping locations you should consider to visit – not all camping locations are cleared for freedom camping – once you land in the country of endless mountains, spectacular drives, and wide-open landscapes.
Don’t forget you can even ship your campervan or other vehicle from the UK to New Zealand which could could save you a lot of money as many campervans and cars are much more expensive down under.
1. Ngawi Camping Area North Island
Lying on Cape Palliser road’s coastal side, this is the perfect freedom camping spot in the south. This picturesque and unique fishing village allows you to stay for 21 nights. While here, go birdwatching, journey to the lighthouse nearby, and watch the seal colony and seabirds make their homes in the region. This secluded and quiet location will also present you with lovely coastal sunsets and sunrises, hiking and swimming, rock-pooling with your kids, and walks in the town settlement.
2. Orangihikoia Campsite North Island
If you love to campervan to a remote location where you can engage in rugged nature activities like fishing, hunting, hiking, and mountain biking, then this is the location for you. Orangihikoia is a hidden gem that is perfectly located a small distance away from Lake Waikaremoana and north of Te Taita O Makora. Be warned, however, that to access the campsite, you have to pass through a narrow, long, and winding road that might be difficult for first-time campervan drivers.
3. Kaiaua Beach North Island
Do you love to sleep to the sound of the ocean? Then take a drive to Kaiaua Beach, located six kilometers off the state highway. There, you will enjoy long and winding views of sparkling water for three nights. The Beach is part of the Hawkes Bay area, and it offers plenty of swimming, fishing, and beach walking opportunities. This is one campsite you will have to book in advance, however.
4. Pelorus Bridge Campground South Island
If you love stunning, unique locations, then this is where you should start your campervanning journey in New Zealand. Located in Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve, this freedom camping site is filled with ancient vegetation trees that make up its fertile lowland forest area. This early Maori settlement is difficult to trek around the sloping forest hills. Nevertheless, it houses the popular Maungatapu Track ride that lets you travel between Nelson and Pelorus valley. Prepare to hike, fish, swim, and kayak. Another beautiful thing about this campsite is that it is divided into two: the powered and the non-powered sites. But, no fires are allowed on the campsite.
5. Mavora Lakes Campsite South Island
Divided into the South of Mavora Lake and North Mavora Lake sites, your campervanning trip here will involve swimming, tramping, hiking, mountain biking, walking, and fishing. You will get fire spots, BBQs, picnic tables, and stunning views here, in addition to boat rides on the North Mavora Lake site.
6. Punakaiki Beach Camp South Island
This is the perfect spot for campers who want to explore the Paparoa National Park while setting up a base camp. The campsite is also located close to the beach allowing you to sleep to soothing ocean sounds. You will also wake up to an amazing sunrise landscape with direct access to the trails across the beach. Scale the sheer limestone gorges, tramp, swim, bushwalk, and fish here if you want.
7. Waikawa Campsite North Island
Don’t let this small freedom campsite fool you; it has a lot to offer. Think birdwatching, hiking trails, shaded resting areas, fire pits, and plenty of campervan space. The Tararua Forest Park is also available for nature lovers looking for a camping experience in the wild. Get to experience all the native birds in New Zealand here, and don’t hesitate to take a swim in the forest water body. The only shortcoming of this site is that it does not allow pets.
8. Reid’s Farm North Island
If you have a self-contained campervan, you can visit Reid’s Farm for three nights and four days. This is another location perfect for nature lovers that prefer to sleep near water bodies. The campsite allows users to park their vehicles along the edge of the river, where they can experience the sound of birds and water creatures drifting into the sunset. Find this farm on Waikato River banks and Huka Falls Road and enjoy swimming, walking, fishing, and hiking activities.
9. Twenty Five Mile Stream South Island
Looking to freedom camp flexibly in Queenstown, then travel to Twenty Five Mile Stream. This is the perfect place to rest for four nights in your campervan when on your holiday travels. Kayak, swim, and fish on your rest days. From here, you can then access Queenstown directly or venture into Arrowtown.
10. Milford Sound Lodge South Island
Our final freedom camping site is the breathtaking stormy and moody Milford Sound Lodge. You will get your ultimate campervan camping experience here from the forest and powered sites that manage to afford you a staying experience in the wild. Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy the numerous activities this site has to offer as well – they include kayaking, track and bushwalking, sound boat cruises, trout fishing, hiking, and sound diving.
Have fun – but understand the rules
Campervanning in New Zealand is a fun experience. But before you get your holiday started, remember to take your time to get used to the new time zone and learn the New Zealand freedom camping rules. Then take time to explore the stunning nation; you don’t want to miss anything incredible on your journey.
Don’t forget to give us a call when you are ready for your move to New Zealand. We’re happy to help you ship your whole house contents and RV or even just your backpack and hike tent if you’re a lightweight traveller!