You’re all excited, reading up on New Zealand, looking at campervans to rent, finding incredible tours to do… and you suddenly ask yourself, ‘Where can I park my campervan in New Zealand?’. Where can I park overnight? How much is it going to cost? Sound familiar? If you’re anything like me, the thought of ‘where to park my campervan’ came a little later in the process. Don’t worry, though. In this article, I’ll outline all your options for where to stay in a camper or motorhome. I’ll also give you the costs to help with budget planning and show you some fantastic tools to help you find places to stay overnight easily. So let’s get to it.
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- 1 Can you sleep anywhere in a campervan in New Zealand?
- 2 Where can I park my campervan in New Zealand?
- 3 Where can you stay overnight in a campervan?
- 4 Department of Conservation (D0C) campgrounds
- 5 Where can I park my campervan in New Zealand for some luxury?
- 6 Holiday parks!
- 7 Where else can I park my campervan in New Zealand?
- 8 Useful apps for finding places to park your campervan overnight
- 9 Where can I park my campervan in New Zealand? Our tips
- 10 You might also find these articles useful
Can you sleep anywhere in a campervan in New Zealand?
In short, no. You can’t just sleep anywhere in a campervan in New Zealand. There are specific regulations regarding where it is considered acceptable to stay overnight in any vehicle, car, campervan or motorhome. There are broad regulations by the government, and then there are individual regulations by the local and regional councils. New Zealand has millions of tourists and campervan travellers every year, so these rules and regulations are strictly enforced. You can expect a $200 NZD fine if you’re in the wrong spot.
Where can I park my campervan in New Zealand?
Where can I park my campervan during the day?
So, to get semantics out of the way, if you just want to park, as in getting out of the car and leaving it in that spot for a few hours, then you can ‘park’ anywhere where you can legally park a vehicle. So, so long as your campervan will fit in an allotted parking space or isn’t hindering traffic and is lawfully parked, you’re good.
Where can I park my campervan overnight?
If you want to ‘park’ your campervan overnight, there are plenty of options, including freedom camping places, DoC campsites, Holiday parks and sometimes, on private property (with the owner’s permission). That’s the purpose of this article, and I’ll go through them all in detail below.
Editors tip: Read our tips on Campervanning New Zealand for a ‘how-to’ guide
Where can you stay overnight in a campervan?
Freedom camping sites
As mentioned above, you can’t just sleep in your campervan anywhere, but you can park your campervan overnight at designated freedom camping sites. These sites are designated by each local council, scattered all over the country, and are free to use. To be able to use the freedom camping sites, you’ll need a self-contained campervan.
A self-contained campervan means you have a toilet on board and a grey water tank. Why? Because freedom camping sites have very little in the way of facilities, therefore, you’ll need to come with your own. A self-contained van has a sticker that says it’s self-contained. This is quite strictly regulated, and you may see inspectors wandering around at popular spots.
Freedom camping sites are a mixed bag. There are some gorgeous ones by the water, while other times you might be beside a sports oval, or simply in a car park.
I won’t go too much into freedom camping in this article as I cover it in detail here. I also have an article explaining self-containment. If you think you want to use the freedom camping sites, I’d highly recommend reading both of them and understanding the ins and outs of how freedom camping works.
Department of Conservation (D0C) campgrounds
If you’re asking yourself, ‘where can I park my campervan in New Zealand that has some facilities but is not too expensive? DoC campsites might be the answer. The DoC has more than 200 campsites throughout spectacular bushland and national parks. These are some of the most beautiful sites you’ll find for camping in New Zealand. While these sites are managed, there are different levels. This means that some will have more facilities than others. The more facilities available, the higher the cost per person per night.
Basic DoC campsites
Basic campsites operated by the DoC are essentially freedom camping sites. They are free to use; however, they have almost no facilities available. They will usually have a drop toilet. They may also have water available. However, they recommend boiling the water first as it is often untreated.
Parking overnight at a DoC Standard campsite
If you want to stay the night at a DoC standard campsite, then this is the point that you’ll begin to start paying. The Standard campsites are $8 NZD per night per adult. For this, you’ll have toilets and water. Again, the water may or may not need to be boiled. Depending on the site, there may (or may not) also be other facilities such as BBQs, cold showers, tables and rubbish bins.
You don’t think about them until you need them, but when you’re living in a campervan, access to rubbish bins becomes essential.
Staying overnight at a Scenic DoC campground
Spending the night in a campervan at a scenic DoC campsite is quite a treat. These sites are usually located in the most beautiful places, hence the name. The general facilities are the same as the standard campsite: a drop toilet, water and potentially showers, rubbish bins, BBQs and tables.
There is one key difference here, aside from the ‘scenic-ness’, which is electricity. At a scenic campsite, you can connect to electricity, which allows you to recharge any electronics. The cost for a powered site is about $18NZD. However, the price for an unpowered site is $15NZD per night. Given the amenities are the same for the Standard campsite and the Scenic campsite, you’re paying $8NZD extra for the view.
Parking overnight at DoC Serviced Campsites
Serviced campsites have the broadest range of, you guessed it, services. They have flushing toilets, hot showers, laundry facilities, rubbish bins, tables and BBQs. As with the Scenic sites, you can connect to electricity by choosing a powered site. An unpowered site is $20NZD a night. A powered site will cost you $23NZD per person per night.
Booking and paying for DoC Campsites
Each campsite has its way that you’ll need to pay. Some cannot be booked in advance. It’s a little confusing. I recommend reading this information from the DoC, which will give you instructions based on your chosen campsite. It also talks about the DoC Campsite Pass, which you can purchase and use for a selected time frame.
Where can I park my campervan in New Zealand for some luxury?
There may be times when you want to wash and clean the smell of campervan living. Maybe you want to swim in a pool or use a nice bathroom. You might even want to sleep in a regular bed for a night. In the New Zealand campervanning world, a holiday park is the equivalent of a nice hotel. Now, I don’t want to talk them up too much because some aren’t that great, as with anything. But, if you land in a nice one, they can be just the refresher you need.
Facilities in holiday parks
Holiday parks will (usually) have a lot of facilities. They’ll have a laundry, an area to wash your dishes. They’ll have bigger bathrooms and shower areas. Sometimes they’ll have things like swimming pools and saunas or spas. They might have some sort of games room, family room or television room.
Holiday parks will often say that they have WiFi. WiFi and good reception are challenging to get in New Zealand, so getting sucked into this ‘holiday park WiFi’ myth can be tempting. It is a myth. While you may get 500MB daily for free, many holiday parks will ‘sell’ a certain amount of gigs. Which would be great, but the WiFi seldom works. We recommend avoiding buying WiFi at a campsite, even if you’re desperate for it.
You could take a break in a cabin.
Many holiday parks also have small cabins that you can rent, so if you have ‘campervan fever’, you can find a bed for the night.
Reception offices for assistance
Holiday parks also have a reception area with staff; they can help you book tours and recommend things to do, which can be helpful.
Top 10 Holiday Parks
The Top 10 Holiday Parks are the largest and most well-known chain of holiday parks in New Zealand. We stayed at quite a few of them, which were pretty good.
Where else can I park my campervan in New Zealand?
Park Over Property
We haven’t used this option, but I wanted to include it so you know it exists and it’s available should you wish to use it. Park Over property is a collection of over 2000 private homes and land owners who will let you park your campervan on their property for a small fee. The New Zealand Motor Caravan Association runs it. You can check the website here for more information.
Useful apps for finding places to park your campervan overnight
There are a few handy apps that you’ll want to download. These will help you find places to park for the night. Not only that, but they can also help you to see things like petrol stations, public toilets and dump stations.
For us, Campermate was a life saver. We used it to find everything. It’s straightforward to use. You can use the menu to filter for things you do or don’t want. For example, you can choose to only see campsites for self-contained vehicles. You’ll be able to search for dump stations, supermarkets, and WiFi places. It’s convenient to have.
You can also download the maps for use offline. This is incredibly helpful because, as I’ve mentioned, WiFi is not great in a lot of places, especially if you’re outside the cities.
Rankers Camping NZ
Rankers are similar to Campermate. Some people have a preference for one over the other. I preferred Campermate, but I would download both and have them ready just in case you’re having trouble finding what you want with the other one.
Where can I park my campervan in New Zealand? Our tips
- If you’re travelling in peak season, arrive at freedom camping sites as early as possible during summer. They get swamped, and if you arrive too late, you’ll miss out on the spot, and you’ll have to keep driving
- Don’t think that you can freedom camp the entire time. There will be some occasions where you miss out on freedom camping places and need to pay for overnight parking
- Having offline maps and a New Zealand sim card will save you a lot of time and stress when you’re trying to find somewhere to stay for the night
- Make sure you take all your rubbish with you or put it in the bins provided when you sleep at freedom camping or DoC campsites.
You might also find these articles useful
- Compare campervan hire in New Zealand
- Cheap campervan hire in New Zealand – how to find quality, affordable campers and save money
- How to choose a campervan for New Zealand
- Campervanning New Zealand in winter – everything you need to know
- The Ultimate Travel Guide for New Zealand
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