As you would expect from a country renowned for its scenery and reputation for outdoor adventure, New Zealand can be classified as extremely camper-friendly because of its policies and plethora of unspoiled sites. The fortunate 2 million tourists who make it to New Zealand each year get to take in hectares and hectares of untouched beauty over a wide range of topography for all sorts of camping memories.
What makes the country a bit unusual is the entire tradition of Freedom Camping, which allows tent, campervan or motor home camping on public land for free at 500+ sites. To take advantage of this great opportunity, you simply need to make sure that the region where you want to camp allows Freedom Camping, that you don’t camp or park on private property and that you don’t leave rubbish behind. In the spirit of Kaitiakitanga, a Maori word for sustainable management of resources for current and future generations, New Zealanders urge outsiders to be careful not to abuse this unusual opportunity to wander about the nation’s most remote areas and camp there.
Despite this commitment to preservation of this camping practice, some campers have abused the liberties of Freedom Camping, especially when it comes to disposing human waste and littering. Camper vans, in particular, have been cited for not using dumping stations. Because of the lack of toilets in Freedom Camping areas and paucity of knowledge about the waste issue on the part of campers, the Freedom Camping Act 2011 was passed. This law allows for a $200 instant fine for those camping illegally and a fine of up to $10,000 for those who dump their sewage in inappropriate places.
Freedom Camping can still be enjoyed by all and will remain a Kiwi fixture, but if you choose to use one of the free areas, be sure to devise a green way to dispose of all your waste and refuse. In addition to legal changes, New Zealand tourism officials have steered visitors towards pay camping sites to combat the problem. Websites have sprung up to educate campers of the magnitude of the problem and of the proper ways to dispose of waste when staying in New Zealand.
For those who want some accoutrements when camping, New Zealand offers abundant possibilities, from areas that go for as little as $5/night to holiday parks that have everything you could need to park your motor home and live there for weeks. The country also offers self-contained motels and cabins, which can be easily reserved for rental.
Among the many online sites that can assist you in deciding where you want to camp and then making the proper reservations, this one has the easiest navigation according to price, facilities and the type of vehicle allowed in the area: http://www.rankers.co.nz/respect. The site has a nice map that can enable you to find everything from a pristine spot in genuinely pure wilderness to a holiday park with a pool for the kids and facilities for your camper.
For those who drive camper vans, the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association is 33,000 members strong, driving 18,000 vehicles from gorgeous location to gorgeous location in a country where several hit films have been shot, precisely because kilometers and kilometers of land are covered in a dazzling, untainted green. For those that are only after a simple rental car, there are a wide variety of car rental companies to choose from (such as Omega Car Rental New Zealand).
Among the most popular sites for camping are the Mavora Lakes, Kaiteriteri Beach, Marahau and the Coromandel Peninsula. Many tourists enjoy seeing the unique black sand beaches of New Zealand, some of which have ruins from centuries ago long before Europeans discovered the land. Other highlights include the Southern Alps, which cover a broad swath of the South Island, and the many charming coastal areas that first attracted Europeans. Campgrounds are most crowded during the summer holiday, which spans December and January, so plan accordingly.
Images come courtesy of http://www.kiwiwise.co.nz