Top 5 Free Camping Spots on the North Island

Tips & Guides
9th Apr 2021

It’s no secret, that some of the world’s most beautiful camping spots can be found in New Zealand. The good news is New Zealand allows freedom camping and that means you can set up in public spots as well as traditional camping grounds. There are more than 500 freedom camping sites in New Zealand.

To freedom camp overnight, your RV has to be self-contained and meet certain certification requirements. This means that your RV has facilities for waste disposal, fresh water and a toilet. Fortunately some of Jayco’s products meet this self-containment certification allowing you more freedom to explore.

We’ve picked our top 5 freedom camping spots in New Zealand’s North Island.

1. Waiponga Reserve, Opoutere, Coromandel

This is the perfect setting for a classic Kiwi summer getaway. The campground is actually a car park which is set back from a 5 kilometre stretch of white sandy beach. At low tide explore the loop walk which takes you through the pine forest to the beach and then across to the spit. The views are amazing and if you are lucky, you can spot some endangered native sea birds at the spit. There’s also some epic rock pools to explore at the northern end of the beach. Once the sun sets, you can soak up all the peace and serenity and fall asleep to the sound of the rolling waves.

  • Maximum stay: 2 consecutive nights
  • Self-contained vehicles only
  • Cost: free

2. Owhiro Bay, Wellington

Owhiro Bay is an east coast town located just a 14-minute drive south of downtown Wellington, this beachfront campsite is a great location away from the city but close enough to enjoy the city’s offerings. Located next to Taputeranga marine reserve and only a 30-minute walk to the entrance of Red Rocks Reserve where you can observe a fabulous fur seal colony. The coastline is rugged and rocky and the area itself is steeped in Maori history, the red rocks were formed some 200 million years ago, and according to Maori folklore, the colour comes from the blood of famous Polynesian explorer Kupe.

  • Maximum stay: 4 nights
  • Self-contained vehicles only
  • Cost: free

3. Napier Pump Track

Sitting just south of Napier City Centre, this site on Marine Parade near the bike pump track overlooks the Pacific Ocean and Hawke’s Bay. The Napier Pump Track car park is set only a stone’s throw away from the shore line and is the perfect place to park up, camp and enjoy the stunning east coast sunrise. Take a 700-metre walk to downtown Napier and explore the art deco landmarks the city has to offer. Marine Parade itself also has the National Aquarium of New Zealand, the Reef Garden, sunken gardens, a junior bike track, Par2 mini golf course, and a massive playground for kids of all ages.

  • Maximum stay: 3 nights
  • Self-contained vehicles only
  • Cost: free

4. Ocean Beach Car Park, Whangarei

This popular gem of a camping spot is set behind the clean white sandy beaches of Ocean Beach. The maximum stay here is one night so you will have to make the most of it. There are fantastic fishing spots (Onerahi Wharf and Busby Heads are our favourites); sensational surfing breaks (both left and right handers), and also some great places for sand-boarding and wind-surfing.

  • Maximum stay: 1 night
  • Self-contained vehicles only
  • Cost: free

5. Bartletts Ford, Manawatu District

This rural riverside reserve is great for summer freedom camping to rest and relax. Bartletts Ford is a 45-minute drive north of Palmerston North – the perfect pit stop for when you’re driving south. With easy river access that is suitable for swimming you can cool off from the hot summer sun. It’s also a safe place to teach the kids how to fish – something that will keep them occupied for hours.

  • Maximum stay: 2 nights
  • Self-contained vehicles only
  • Cost: free

 

If you’ve got any hidden freedom camping sites in the North Island, share them with us on our Facebook or Instagram page.

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