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Freedom Camping in Canterbury

Freedom Camping in Canterbury

The best way to explore the diverse region of Canterbury is via road. Self-contained vehicles give you the freedom to stop often, explore hidden gems and experience the countryside close-up.

What is Freedom Camping?

  • Freedom camping is the term used for camping at locations without camping facilities for example toilets, showers and cooking facilities
  • Self-contained is defined as vehicles that are equipped with a toilet, waste water and rubbish facilities on-board as approved by the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association
  • Only certified self-contained vehicles are allowed to freedom camp in designated areas of Christchurch & Akaroa/Banks Peninsula
  • Non-self-contained freedom camping (e.g. in a car or tent) is not allowed anywhere in the district
  • A $200 fine will be enforced for anyone found breaching the council bylaw
  • Find out more about Freedom Camping Etiquette in New Zealand

The Canterbury region is made up of several local authorities, it's important you're aware of the by-laws and freedom camping restrictions for each district.

Freedom Camping in Christchurch and Akaroa/Banks Peninsula

If you're planning to freedom camp in Christchurch and Akaroa/Banks Peninsula it's important you're aware of the current restrictions.

Restrictions include:

  • Non-self-contained freedom camping (e.g. in a car or tent) is not allowed anywhere in the district.
  • A $200 fine will be enforced for anyone found breaching the council bylaw.

Find out more.

Freedom Camping in the Hurunui

Freedom camping areas:

Restrictions include:

  • Designated areas strictly apply
  • Vehicles must be self-contained
  • Freedom campers are allowed to park for a maximum of 4 nights within a single calendar month (between 5pm and 9am the following day)

Travellers are encouraged to use the range of holiday parks and camping grounds scattered across the Hurunui District. 

Find out more.

Freedom Camping in the Waimakariri

There are no restrictions on freedom camping in the Waimakariri with the exception of an area in Waikuku Beach.

Travellers are encouraged to use camping grounds where possible. 

Find out more.

Freedom Camping in Arthur's Pass and Selwyn

Most camping grounds in the Selwyn District have public toilet facilities. No bookings are required, campsites are determined on a first in first served basis.

Freedom Camping in Mackenzie

Freedom camping areas (block-out dates apply) include:

  • One site at the west end of Lake Ruataniwha Reserve, Twizel – located on Max Smith Drive
  • Three sites at Lake Opuha, Fairlie. Located at Bennetts Road, Hayes Road, Opuha Gorge Road
  • For the above sites date restrictions apply prohibiting camping between 23 December and the second Monday in January (inclusive)

 Freedom camping areas (no block-out dates) include:

  • Pattersons Ponds – located on the Tekapo Canal Road
  • Lake Wardell – located along State Highway 8 near Twizel

Restrictions include:

  • Camper must have fully self-contained toilet facilities e.g. the camper’s toilet must be readily usable at all times
  • Campers must meet ablution needs for a minimum of 3 days without requiring discharge of waste and without the occupants relying on external facilities
  • Campers can stay a maximum of 3 consecutive nights
  • Camping is prohibited within 20 metres of the lake shore

Freedom Camping in Mid Canterbury

An overnight stay is allowed at the below picnic areas for self-contained vehicles. Toilet facilities are available.

The following campgrounds provide self-contained and non-self-contained services for campers:

  • Rangitata River Mouth
  • Ashburton Holiday Park
  • Rakaia Gorge
  • Hakatere

Find out more about freedom camping locations in Mid Canterbury.