Freedom Camping

Freedom camping is when you camp on public land that isn't a recognised camping ground or holiday park.

Freedom camping is prohibited on Council Reserves and in the South Bay Recreation Reserve.  Freedom camping is discouraged throughout the peninsular, town and residential areas. We ask everyone to be considerate of our environment and other users. Only camp where you have access to facilities and follow the guidelines.

On this page:


Camping FlyerDL Page 1

Who can freedom camp?

If you want to freedom camp in Kaikoura, you must have access to a toilet or have an on-boardtoilet, wastewater collection and rubbish disposal facilities.

Freedom camping is limited to two days, unless you are otherwise informed.

Back to top

Where can I freedom camp?

Camping is discouraged particularly in the town centre, residential areas and the rest of the Kaikoura peninsula (shown on the map).

Camping is prohibited on Council reserves and in the South Bay recreation reserve. Camping in prohibited areas may result in an infringement notice.

Freedom campers should use public spaces, camping areas or camping grounds. For more information, contact the local i-Site Visitor Centre.

Back to top

Freedom camping on DOC land

Freedom camping on DOC land is generally allowed. There are some places on DOC land where you can't camp because the site has a special value, for example it's a Māori burial site (urupa) or a protected plant or animal is there.

Conservation areas where you can't freedom camp 

Back to top

Freedom camping etiquette

  • Check where you can and cannot park.
  • Do not camp on private land.
  • Respect our environment – leave the site clear of all rubbish, waste and damage. Understand that dumping of waste and litter is an offence and will result in instant fines or prosecution.
  • Act responsibly, respect the access and enjoyment rights of other public space users and be considerate of your impact on them and the surrounding environment. Respect our urban areas.
  • Dispose off all toilet and waste water at Council-approved dump station (see above Map). Do not leave your waste in the environment.
  • Freedom camping is limited to two days.
  • Do not wash dishes or wash/dry clothes in public facilities not designed for that purpose, e.g. public toilet.
  • Following safe fire practices at all times, including adhering to fire bans.
  • Keep dogs under control.

There are other Council bylaws that may apply and controls under other legislation, such as for noise, dog control, liquor in public places, and parking control.

Back to top

Recycling and Rubbish

Kaikoura is a Zero Waste Community, visit Innovative Waste Kaikoura centre to recycle your empty cans, drink bottles and packaging or glass bottles and/or dump rubbish.

For more information see our Recycling and Rubbish page.

Back to top

What is Council doing to manage Freedom Camping in Kaikoura

Council believes that camping along our coastline is something many of our residents and visitors treasure and that tourism (including freedom camping) is an important part of our local economy. Council is committed to finding solutions that manage the impact of badly behaved campers whilst encouraging responsible campers to visit and enjoy our District.

Blanket-banning freedom camping is not allowed under NZ law. In addition, tourism (including freedom camping) is an important part of our local economy. We must find solutions that continue to encourage visitors to our District whilst managing their impacts more effectively. 

Freedom Camping has been an issue for a number of years. The closure of some traditional freedom camping spots along SH1 due to ongoing earthquake rebuild work may have resulted in a higher than normal concentration in other places in Kaikōura, including the Kiwa Road site.

Council is forming a Responsible Camping Working Group to address freedom camping in Kaikōura. The name responsible camping has been chosen because Council believes that this is the best way to describe the attitude we’re taking to managing this complicated issue and the outcome we are seeking for our community.

What can you do? 

If you have any thoughts/suggestions or ideas about freedom camping, the actions we’re currently taking or have planned, please email us.

In March 2018 a paper went to Council, that reviewed the approaches of neighbouring Councils to help us learn lessons from our neighbours. Read the Council paper here

In January 2018 Council agreed to take some action as soon as possible as well as look at medium and long term solutions for the District as a whole. Read the Council paper here 

Note: The link to the Campermate app will remain on the Council page. CamperMate is one of two apps officially endorsed by the responsible camping forum.  Campermate  also contains information about dozens of tourist attractions, sites and businesses that help tourists visiting our District to get the most out of their trip and bring revenue to many local businesses. In addition, the current information about the Kiwa Road site clearly states that it is for self-contained vehicles only and encourages responsible camping. This helps raise awareness of the damage currently being done and notes that it’s not acceptable and risks the campsite being closed.

Back to top

Complaining about freedom camping

To make sure future complaints are actioned and recorded appropriately, please make any complaints about human waste/dumping through our Contact Us page or by calling the front desk. That way, Council staff can quickly and easily log the complaints for appropriate review/action. 

Back to top

Useful links

Back to top

Contact Us

If need anymore information or wish to make a complaint about freedom camping, contact us at 03 319 5026 or

Last updated: 24 May 2018