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.

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.


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 


Freedom camping etiquette

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.


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.


What is Council doing to manage Freedom Camping in Kaikoura

Blanket-banning freedom camping is not allowed under NZ law. A number of Councils who have tried to do this have encountered legal difficulties over the issue. In addition tourism (including freedom camping) is an important part of our local economy and we must find solutions that continue to encourage visitors to our District whilst managing their impacts more effectively. This is a complex issue that needs thorough planning and the involvement of all affected stakeholders to ensure we get the best solutions possible for everyone.

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

Freedom camping is one of a number of issues Council is currently managing. We have a small ratepayer base, a limited budget and, especially post-earthquake, a lot of challenges and costs to meet. We’ll continue to do our best to work with affected parties to improve the situation.

Short-Term Steps 

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 

Our 'as soon as possible' actions include: 

  • Installing temporary signage to encourage campers to camp respectfully and warning that the site may be closed if problems continue. This should be installed in February. 
  •  Installing a temporary portaloo at Kiwa Road to help ease the pressure on the existing toilet. We tried to find a spot that was a compromise between being as far away from residences as possible, placed near where we believe the most popular freedom camping spot is in the hope that this will encourage people to use it, and being somewhere where the contractor felt there would be easy to access to clean it. This is a temporary measure only and will be removed around April when the numbers of campers start to dwindle. 
  • Working with NCTIR to get info to Campers.
  • Updating information in apps/online: We’re working with Destination Kaikoura, the I-site, Campermate and Rankers to identify and correct any incorrect information on our website or other popular websites/apps.  

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.

Medium-long term actions

A paper outlining our completed actions and next steps will go to Council in March. 

An informal ‘project team’ made up of several members of KDC staff is working on this to varying degrees. We're looking at:

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

Complaining about freedom camping

To make sure future complaints are actioned and recorded appropriately, we’re asking that complaints about human waste/dumping are made either here or by calling the front desk. That way, Council staff can quickly and easily log the complaints for appropriate review/action. 


Useful links


Contact Us

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