Responsible Camping

Kaikōura welcomes those who camp responsibly. We ask all campers to treat our environment with respect and to leave it as beautiful as you find it (or better).

Outlined below is information on where you can and cannot camp for free, and the rules and guidelines that apply.

To find out about the many fantastic land, sky and sea activities that you can enjoy during your stay with us, visit the Destination Kaikōura tourism website.

General Guidelines

Some general guidelines for  Camping on Kaikōura District Council owned or managed land:

  • Freedom Camping in tents is not permitted.  Please stay in one of the many friendly holiday parks or camping sites which offer excellent facilities and a warm welcome.  Ensure to book in advance during the busy summer season.
  • Certified self-contained vehicles can be used for freedom camping in some restricted areas (see information below). All vehicles must display a current self-containment warrant issued under New Zealand Standard Self Containment of Motor Caravans and Caravans, NZS 5465:2001. The associated certificate must be made available on request.
  • The toilet must be easily usable at all times, including when the bed is made up. 
  • All regulations are governed by the KDC Freedom Camping Bylaw which does not cover private land, DOC land, KiwiRail or NZTA land. 
  • Take all rubbish and recycling to Innovative Waste Kaikoura on Scarborough Street or take it with you.
  • On-board storage tanks must be emptied on a regular basis at the Council approved dump point at South Bay Domain.
  • If there are no freedom camping sites available, please contact one of the camping sites in our District who can offer excellent facilities at reasonable prices. 


For the purposes of freedom camping, Council owned and managed property has three categories; Prohibited, Designated Camping Sites and Restricted.

Prohibited Areas

Areas where no camping of any kind is allowed are shown in red in the interactive map below and are:

  • Kiwa road area at Mangāmāunu
  • Coastal strip south of town (from South Bay Parade to the Kowhai river)
  • Kaikōura urban area, which includes Point Kean, the Esplanade; opposite the Fire Station, South Bay and the marina area (unless in designated camping sites as outlined in the section below)

Designated Responsible Camping Sites

Camping for free in a certified self-contained vehicle is allowed for a maximum of 1 night in the same spot (or within 500m of that spot) in any four week period. 

The designated sites are shown as orange tent icons in the interactive map and are found at:

  • West End car park; maximum 10 vehicles. Normal parking rules still apply 8.30am – 5.30pm;
  • Jimmy Armers Beach; marked camping spaces only; maximum 6 vehicles, maximum vehicle length of 7.5 metres; sites must be vacated by 7am.
  • Scarborough Street; fenced site; maximum 20 vehicles;
  • South End Railway Station Carpark; marked camping spaces, only maximum 6 vehicles; maximum vehicle length 5 metres;
  • Pohowera (South Bay); maximum 15 vehicles (closed between 15 August and the last day in February the following year to protect the banded dotterel/Pohowera threatened species which nest there).
  • Camping opposite the Fire Station on the Esplanade is no longer permitted.


PLEASE NOTE: Vehicles must park within the marked spaces. One vehicle per space. All personal effects must be kept within the vehicle. On-board storage tanks must be emptied on a regular basis at a Council approved dump point.

Freedom Camping Interactive Map

 Click here for Mobile friendly interactive map 



Responsible Camping Bylaw enforcement

Responsible Camping Officers are available to help educate visitors and residents and to ensure freedom camping regulations are followed. Fines can be issued for the following;

-  not following the rules for the area (includes camping in prohibited or closed areas, overstaying etc.)
-  interfering with or damaging flora or fauna or any structure (fences, signs etc)
-  not disposing of effluent or solid waste properly
-  using public facilities to wash clothes, dishes other items or bathe (other than facilities intended for that purpose)
-  camping in an area that has been temporarily closed

-  not leaving the area when required to do so

-  not allowing an enforcement officer's inspection.

  • Call us anytime on 03 319 5026 and follow the prompts
  • report an issue anytime through the Contact Us page and your enquiry will be dealt with during office hours Mon - Fri 8am - 4.30pm
  • For emergencies please call 111 or for safety concerns contact the police on 105
  • Read a full copy of the Freedom Camping Bylaw here