If you want to discover the best of what New Zealand has to offer, you will make some wonderful discoveries off the beaten track, and travelling in your motorhome is the best way to go about it. Road-tripping in motorhomes across New Zealand has recently become an extremely popular activity.
It is just like having a small house on wheels so you can stop anywhere you like and wake up to a new view every day. You can enjoy a holiday according to your schedule and explore places wherever the wanderlust takes you.
However, if you have never done this before, you may be anxious about many travel-related aspects. One of these significant issues is finding places to park your motorhome. If you are travelling on a limited budget, free parking spots may be very useful.
We have put together a few useful tips and recommendations for places where you can park your motorhome for free, whether you are looking for an overnight parking spot or places for camping.
Can I park my motorhome for free in New Zealand?
New Zealand has particular parking and camping laws, so it is not authorised to park a motorhome just anywhere. Moreover, every region has its own particular set of laws for motorhome parking, referred to as freedom camping in most instances. While some local councils allow free camping and welcome motorhome travellers, other councils forbid it, so you may have to do your research.
That said, you can park your motorhome and sleep overnight on certain public lands without paying any cost. However, it does not imply that you can park anywhere in the country, particularly in areas that allow free parking. Local councils and the Department of Conservation have outlined a list of places where motorhomes and camper vans can be parked for free.
The New Zealand Department of Conservation has provided a list of 50 campsites where you can park your motorhome for free and camp. There are numerous other beautiful places under local and regional councils where you can do freedom camping. However, if you are camping at a prohibited site, you will be found violating the law and be imposed a fine.
Similarly, if you want to park at a freedom camping site, you must have a self-contained vehicle. A self-contained vehicle is one in which you can live for three days without requiring more water or dumping waste. Your motorhome must comply with the Caravan Self-Containment Certification standard, and the blue and white sticker reflecting the same must be displayed on the vehicle.
At the same time, regardless of where you want to park your motorhome, you must adhere to the local laws and regulations and leave the place in the same condition you found it.
You must take away the waste and use recycling facilities where available. Keep the surroundings clean and use the motorhome or public toilet. You must also empty your waste water and sewage at the designated dump points and cause minimal disturbance. If you have parked overnight in an urban area, it is better to leave at the earliest to avoid any inconvenience.
Finding free motorhome parking in New Zealand
Here are a few recommendations for whether you want to park your motorhome overnight or require a camping spot.
Overnight motorhome parking in New Zealand
It is important to stop your motorhome and rest for the night if you have been on the road the entire day. The good news is there are various options for overnight parking in New Zealand.
Many public car parks in the bigger towns and cities of New Zealand and even supermarkets allow motorhomes to park and have motorhome icons painted on their parking sports. If you happen to visit any such car park, you can drive around and find such spots.
You can also park your vehicle at campsites or freedom camping areas for one or more nights. We have suggested a few in the next section. You can also park your motorhome on private property as long as you have permission. It is important to note that if your motorhome is not a certified self-contained vehicle, you can only park in a campsite or holiday park where the basic amenities are offered. You will not be allowed to a freedom camp in this case.
Camping spots for motorhomes in New Zealand
New Zealand has numerous designated freedom camping sites managed by local or regional councils or the Department of Conservation. These sites are mostly located in scenic areas and offer a few basic facilities only, like drop toilets and rainwater. Before you park at any such sites, make sure that parking is allowed there and that your vehicle is self-sufficient and adheres to the self-containment vehicle standards.
Here are a few great camping spots where you may like to take your motorhome and camp for free.
Orangihikoia Campsite (North Island): This campsite is in a remote location north of Te Taita O Makora, a short distance from Lake Waikaremoana. If you want to access the site, you will have to pass through a narrow and windy road which may seem a bit challenging if you do not have much experience driving a motorhome. If you choose to camp, there is plenty to do, including mountain biking, hiking, hunting, and fishing.
Klondyke Corner Campsite (South Island): This campsite is located in the Canterbury Region on the south Island. It is located in a grassy area and offers a beautiful view of the mountains.
Kaiaua Beach (North Island): If you want to camp by the ocean, this is the place to be. Kaiaua Beach is a part of the Hawkes Bay area and is located only 6kms away from the state highway. You can park here for a maximum of three days.
Twenty-Five Mile Stream (South Island): The Twenty-Five Mile Stream on Glenorchy Road in Queenstown is an overnight motorhome parking spot. The place offers camping near water, so you can kayak, fish, or swim during your stay.
Graces Stream (North Island): Graces Stream is located south of Wainuiomata, almost 10kms from the coast road. The place is around 45 minutes from Wellington City, while the Orongorongo Valley is in the vicinity. You can hike, explore the valley in the daytime, and rest at the beautiful campsite at night.
Can a motorhome park anywhere in New Zealand?
Motorhomes cannot park just anywhere in New Zealand. The local and regional councils have their specific rules for parking for freedom camping and parking in urban areas. Local councils and the Department of Conservation have outlined a list of places where motorhomes and camper vans can be parked for free.
Where can I camp for free in New Zealand?
If you want to camp for free in New Zealand, numerous places come under the DOC and the local and regional councils. If you want to do wild camping, a few recommended places include Orangihikoia Campsite, Graces Stream, Kaiaua Beach on North Island and Twenty Five Mile Stream, and Klondyke Corner Campsite on the South Island, among others.
Are you allowed to wild camp in New Zealand?
Yes, wild camping is allowed in designated campsites in New Zealand according to the Freedom Camping Act 2011. However, for this purpose, you must ensure that parking is not prohibited and your motorhome is self-contained. If you park at a prohibited site, you may be imposed a fine.