Road tripping around New Zealand in a campervan is a terrific way to see the country. But when night falls, it can be tricky to find a decent place to park your home on wheels. Here are some of the campsites we explored that are worth visiting on New Zealand’s North and South Island.

Road Tripping New Zealand

Every year, van loads of people are hungry to see the best of what New Zealand has to offer on four wheels.

Although New Zealand’s known for its abundance of free camping locations, the last thing you want is to be driving around in circles after a long day of adventuring looking for your spot under the stars. Save that extra fuel and add these camp spots to your list.

Trailing New Zealand in a decked-out rig is an experience high on many travellers’ bucket lists that I have to say is an absolute corker. 



I like a laid-back approach to travel. Knowing exactly where I’ll end up at the end of the day isn’t a high priority. Just in case somewhere gets me so stoked I’d rather not leave for another 24 hours.

But…. when your accommodation is on four wheels it’s comforting to know you’ll find somewhere to pull up for the night.

Get your New Zealand plans ready and have these campervan sites on standby.

Also Read:

The Tiaki Promise and How to be a Respectful Traveller

The Tiaki Promise is a commitment to care for Aotearoa New Zealand, for now, and for future generations. By following the Tiaki Promise, all who travel in New Zealand are making a commitment to act as guardians, protecting and preserving land and culture. Use these simple guidelines while exploring Aotearoa:

1. Care for land, sea, and nature, treading lightly and leaving no trace

2. Travel safely, showing care and consideration for all

3. Respect the culture and local communities, travelling with an open heart and mind

Best Campervan Sites on the North Island

1. Foreshore Reserve Freedom Camping

Closest Town: Napier
Distance Away:
Cost: Free!

Foreshore Reserve Freedom Camping is far enough from Napier’s town centre that all you hear is the waves, but close enough that you can walk along the beach pathway into town. A stone’s throw from the water, you’ll find eight designated campervan sites for non-self-contained vehicles.

This is the only campsite that doesn’t require self-containment in the area so if you are self-contained there’s an almost identical campsite up the road that’s for you.

Basic facilities include public toilets and drinking water, but the ocean is right there for a freshen up. Wake up early enough to make a cup of joe and watch the sunrise at the beach. 

Hot tip! A maximum stay of two consecutive nights is permitted here. Share it around!


2. Reids Farm – Hipapatua Recreational Reserve

Closest Town: Taupo
Distance Away:
Cost: Free

Right on the edge of the Waikato River you’ll find the bustling Reids Farm campsite on the Hipapatua Recreational Reserve. There are oodles of spots here, it’s probably the biggest free camping site we came across.

The bonus is of course the crystal-clear river that runs past – literally runs – so be careful of the strong current when swimming! 

Read more: Staying Safe Around Swimming Holes


Huka Falls


A bushwalk starts from the campsite to the famous Huka Falls, about a 10km loop. Take your bathers as there’s a hot spring located along the way. 

A handful of portaloos, public toilets, and dishwashing stations are located on-site. Campers can stay three nights over a two week period. 

Hot tip! River water can be taken for drinking but make sure to boil it beforehand.

3. Lake Okareka Campsite

Closest Town: Rotorua
Distance Away:
Cost: $15pp

Can’t get enough of the trails at Rotovegas? Don’t want to stay right in the hustle and bustle of it all? With the views you get from your van, you can’t complain about the campground Lake Okareka. Frolic in the lake and lap up the peace and quiet.

The 12 campervan sites fill up by 6 or 7pm, so you might have to cut your ride short, but don’t worry the Redwoods are just around the corner!   

Head west from Whakarewarewa along Tarawera Road and take the Okareka Loop Road exit. Pass the first campsite, Boyes Beach, and drive a little further to the quieter Lake Okareka site. The mist on the lake in the morning is worth it. 

Hot tip! Drive safely in New Zealand. Know the road rules and be careful driving over passes. 


Best Campervan Campervan Sites on the South Island

4. Cascade Creek Campground

Closest Town: Te Anau Downs
Distance Away:
Cost: $15 Adult, $7.50 Child

Milford Sound is a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site and, although it’d be extraordinary, freedom camping in the national park is off-limits.

Head back towards Te Anau along the Milford Road for around 50 minutes where you’ll find Cascade Creek Campground. There are 120 sites for tents and campers including several toilet facilities. 

It’s situated on the tail end of Lake Gunn next to its offshoot the Eglinton River, which is freakin’ freezing by the way! The Lake Gunn nature walk is also near the entrance of the campground if you’re eager to stretch the legs.

Hot tip! Don’t be tempted to wash your dishes in the stream! Remember this is near a World Heritage site. Collect the water and take it back to your campsite for use. 

Read more: Road Trip From Lake Te Anau to Milford Sound

5. Albert Town Campground

Closest Town: Wanaka
Distance Away:
Cost: $10pp

You’ll find the Albert Town Campground just outside of Wanaka right on the banks of the picture-perfect Clutha River. Follow the main road out of Albert Town and over the bridge where there are plenty of sites on either side of the main road.



If you’re after some adventure, the Dean Banks mountain bike track, an 11.5km loop, starts right beside the campground. There’s also a map at the check-in point with heaps of swimming spots and walking trails listed.



This spot has loads of amenities for low-maintenance campervans including washing up sinks, toilets, and bins. It’s a first-in first-served campsite that’s super popular over the New Zealand holiday period, so make sure you get there early to secure a good spot. 

Hot tip! The little ducks around the campsite wait for you to feed them, I know they’re cute but try to resist! Feeding wildlife has long-term consequences.

Read more: Remember to leave no trace!

6. Lake MacGregor Campsite

Closest Town: Lake Tekapo
Distance Away:
Cost: $10pp

Only a short drive from Tekapo, Lake McGregor is a hidden gem. A much smaller lake than Lake Tekapo but there’s no light pollution here, so this place is for the stargazers!

The campsite overlooks the lake which, despite the chill once the sun goes down, will be luring you in for a dip under the stars. In summer, the famous lupin flowers are scattered all around the paddocks near the campsite.  


Lupin flowers


Take the Godley Peaks road turn-off near the Tekapo Aerodrome and follow to Lake Alexandrina. There’s a bumpy gravel road near the end of the drive but only lasts about five minutes.

There are only basic toilet facilities here but a decent number of spots. Make sure to bring cash for the honesty box at the entrance.

Hot tip! The water at this facility isn’t potable so BYO.

7. Aussie Bay Campground

Closest Town: Picton
Distance Away:
Cost: $8pp

The Marlborough Sounds drive from Nelson to Picton is one you’ve got to take if you want to take the ferry over to Wellington. Be sure to leave time for a stay at this little ripper of a spot – Aussie Bay Campground.

A short cliff walk meanders up from the campsite and the beach is perfect for a peaceful swim as the sun rises. 

With only six sites available, this is a first-come first-served campground. You know the drill. Get there early and you shall receive a prime spot! The entrance is easy to miss when you’re gawking at the Sounds so pay attention when you pass the Grove.

Hot tip! Make sure you leave enough space for others. Don’t be a campsite hog.


Campervan Sites New Zealand FAQs

Can you park a campervan anywhere in New Zealand?

Although places to pull up in your campervan are ample in New Zealand, that doesn’t mean you can camp on any old stretch of road.

The three main areas where campervan camping is permitted in New Zealand are; 

  • Freedom camping sites
  • Department of Conservation campgrounds
  • Holiday parks and private campgrounds

Freedom camping sites are essentially public land that doesn’t have a bylaw against camping, although there are specific freedom camping campgrounds in each council area as well. Many freedom campsites have few facilities, as it’s expected campers will be self-contained with a toilet and shower on board.

Is a campervan worth it in New Zealand?

Road-tripping in a campervan is a great way to see New Zealand. A lot of the freedom camping campgrounds are set up for people travelling in campervans, and with such gobsmacking scenery all around, just driving around the country feels like an adventure. 

Where can you sleep in a campervan in New Zealand?

There are a few different places you can sleep in a campervan in New Zealand.

  • Freedom camping sites
  • Department of Conservation campgrounds
  • Holiday parks and private campgrounds

How much does the average campsite cost in NZ?

Campsites in New Zealand are a very cheap form of accommodation, with many being free to stay at for the night. Some have a small fee of usually less than $20 per person per night, making the average cost around $10 per person, per night.

How much does it cost to park a campervan in New Zealand?

Parking a campervan at a freedom campground in New Zealand is usually free! Some campgrounds cost a small fee, but if you do your research, you could manage to camp for free across the whole country.

Do you need a special license to drive a campervan in NZ?

If you’re visiting New Zealand from overseas, you can drive a campervan if you have a current full car license in your home country, or if you have an international drivers permit.

However a TARE weight limit of 4,500kg or less applies to the campervan (that’s the amount the vehicle weighs without any load), so this could restrict which kind of campervan you hire.

If you’re a New Zealand resident, you’ll need to hold a standard class 1 car license to drive a campervan with a gross laden weight of 6,000kg or less. 

Can you take a campervan from Australia to New Zealand?

Yep, you sure can, however there is a bit of paperwork involved. If you’re importing your car to New Zealand temporarily (i.e less than 12 months), you won’t need to fork out for the full New Zealand registration, however you will need to register it as a temporary import.

You can only import a car temporarily if you’re a New Zealand tourist, not if you’re a citizen or resident, and the vehicle has to remain registered in your home country.