Where to camp in Kaikoura
Kaikōura has many holiday parks and campgrounds. Please support local businesses by choosing to stay at one of these.
If you want to stay in a 'Freedom Camping' site Council is promoting three sites for responsible camping use over the 2018-19 summer.
The sites are:
- Pohowera site off SH1 south of South Bay. Temporary toilets have been provided. The site is limited to up to 30 campsites, CCTV is being used to monitor vehicle numbers. It is suitable for tents or self-contained campers.
- Scarborough Street Recreation Reserve near Innovative Waste Kaikoura - This site is grass and may only be suitable for 4x4 during or after heavy rain. Temporary toilets have been provided. It is suitable for tents or self-contained campers and is fenced to limit numbers.
- South Kekerengu – Self-contained only site
There is currently a health risk warning at the traditional camping site at Kiwa Road due to the ongoing health risk posed by the presence of human waste in the area. Council is encouraging people not to camp in the area to avoid the health risk and to allow the area to recover from environmental degradation caused by heavy use over the last summer. This is not a camping ban. People using the site over this summer do so at their own risk.
Alongside the work of the responsible camping working group, Council has funding from the central government Tourism and Infrastructure Fund to work with Kiwa road residents, iwi and other area users to find a permanent solution for this beautiful and precious site. We expect this work to be well progressed by the middle of 2019. If you'd like to know more about this work please email us
The 2018/19 Responsible Camping Trial
For the 2018/9 summer the Responsible Camping Working Group assessed 50 different locations across the district and identified three sites to be used for responsible camping. Choosing these sites and planning how to encourage visitors to respect Kaikoura’ s wildlife, people and environment was a joint effort by community members including, business, youth, community, environmental, regulatory and iwi representatives. Council would like to thank everyone involved for their hard work, passion and dedication to Kaikoura.
This year was a trial of a new approach to managing campers in our district. The aims were to decrease incidents of unwanted behaviours, support local (commercial) alternatives to freedom camping, and increase ability of affected residents to report issues and act as guardians for camping areas. In general, the trial is working well, with positive feedback from residents and visitors. There have been a small number of issues such as rubbish dumping and the presence of lots of campers has drawn attention to the dotterel population in South Bay.
Matt Hoggard, Kaikoura District Council Strategy and Policy Manager said, “this year was a significant step along the journey towards managing freedom camping in our district responsibly. The three new sites were a trial and we’ll take a look at everything we’re learning, what's working and what's not, how many people are camping here and see how we can better encourage visitors who choose to ‘freedom camp’ to do so in a way that makes sure impact they have on our home and our economy is as positive and sustainable as possible. Ideas that have already come in from the public, include donation boxes, more signs and fences and I look forward to hearing what other good ideas working group members have to share.”
"South Bay’s dotterel(Pohowera) population is precious to many of our residents. The beach is a popular recreation site with locals and visitors using the beach for fishing, dog walks, quad bike riding and now, camping. All of these activities do affect our dotterels, so beach users have always had to keep an eye out for them. We’re lucky that the South Bay Dotterel study is represented on the camping working group and we’ll continue to work closely with them to understand how we can reduce the impact of beach users including campers on the birds” said Mr Hoggard
Since agreeing to the use of the camping site in late December, Council has taken several steps to help educate beach users, locals and campers about the dotterels and camping responsibly. This includes naming the campsite after the birds, articles in local papers and newsletters, online and radio information and fliers. Council has also been monitoring camping at all three responsible camping campsites and recording numbers, complaints and issues. Over the next 2 weeks council will be installing extra signs and distributing over 1000 fliers to spots popular with beach users to help educate people and responsible camping and about our dotterels.
Ensuring campers camp responsibly is a joint effort between Council and other regulatory agencies such as the Police, DOC and Fire and Emergency. Police and Fire and Emergency are continuing to enforce their respective regulations to control antisocial behaviour, nudity and fire lighting. In addition, Council is continuing to encourage responsible camping behaviors through education and communications campaigns.
Issues can be reported using the the contact us form on our website https://www.kaikoura.govt.nz/contact-us/ or using the following numbers;
- Life threatening situations including fire safety call 111
- Safety concerns, nudity, drug/alcohol abuse call Kaikōura Police 03 319 5038
- To request toilet cleaning call 03 319 7148
- Report people leaving rubbish/littering call 03 319 5026
There is more work planned over 2019 to help with this and other camping issues. This includes working with our community and beach users at Mangamaunu, the districts other popular freedom camping spot, to develop a plan for its’ use in the future.
- Frequently asked questions
- Responsible Freedom Camping in Kaikōura
- Fire Rules and Safety
- Boil water notices
- Freedom Camping Act 2011
- Kiwa road camping area closure
- Sign up to receive freedom camping email updates (tick the freedom camping box on the sign up form)
The responsible camping working group was been brought together to help develop long term solutions to managing freedom camping in the Kaikōura District. The name responsible camping was chosen because it highlights what the group is trying to achieve – a sustainable, responsible way of dealing with camping and campers across our district.
The group is a partnership of Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura, community members, business owners, Kaikōura District Council, Environment Canterbury and national bodies who have an interest in responsible camping within Kaikōura.
Between them, group members have a wealth of local and national knowledge about camping.
Mayor Winston Gray discussed the group saying, "Councils are sometimes criticised for having lots of meetings and making little progress. In some cases people may have a point, but when it comes to managing camping in our district Council knows that the only way we can succeed is if we bring everyone together to work collectively to create a solution that will work for us as a District, as a community and as a tourist destination.”
“We’ve chosen the name ‘Responsible Camping’ because Council believes that this is the best way to describe the attitude we’re taking – it’s also the outcome we are seeking for our community. We want to ensure that we act responsibly now to protect Kaikōura’s natural environment while also protecting the right of future generations of to enjoy camping responsibly as part of the kiwi way of life.”
“Even those who are most vocally opposed to freedom camping recognise that camping along our coastline is something many of our residents as well as our visitors treasure. Most also recognise that tourism is an important part of our local economy. What this means is that we have no choice but to find a way to manage the impact of badly behaved campers whilst encouraging responsible campers to enjoy our District sustainably” he said.
The working group worked with Council to agree how camping should be managed in Kaikōura. Members of the working group included agencies such as the Department of Conservation who have legal authority over some of the land used by campers within our district. They also included organisations who have an interest in the Kaikōura environment or economy, including our tourism and accommodation sectors.
We’d like to thank everyone who participated in this group for their dedication, patience and passion around the issue.
14 January 2019