Responsible Camping

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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

Download a flier with site maps and details here 

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.

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.

Read Frequently Asked Questions about Responsible Camping and this years trial

This year is a trial of a new approach to managing campers in our district. The aims are 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 through the Contact Us form (this allows you to add a location and images)  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

Taking responsibility for camping 

Following recent media and social media debate about Council’s approach to managing the complex issue of ‘freedom’ camping in Kaikōura, here are the thoughts of Council CEO Angela Oosthuizen. 

Work underway to plan for the future of camping at Kiwa Road

We're working with our community and beach users at Mangamaunu, to develop a plan for its’ use in the future.  

If you'd like to know more or get involved, please email us or read more here 

 Useful links 


25 January 2019