Council launches freedom camping pilot

Programme aims to help campers find alternative sites

Last Updated : 03 Dec 2020
Auckland tackles freedom camping issue (1)

A bumper tourism season is increasing tensions between freedom campers and locals in Auckland, prompting a move by Auckland Council to see if the two groups can peacefully co-exist.

Auckland Council is conducting a two-month pilot 'dispersal' programme from February to April that could see freedom campers encouraged to spread out over 27 locations across the city, rather than crowd into a few well-known hot spots.

Local boards help select camping sites

The pilot sites have been selected following extensive consultation with local boards, resulting in seven of the city's 21 local boards participating.

At the outer edges of Auckland, Franklin and Rodney local boards have approved seven and eight sites respectively.

Hibiscus and Bays Local Board has approved five sites and Upper Harbour Local Board has approved the use of Rosedale Reserve in Albany.

Howick Local Board has approved sites in Eastern Beach, Lloyd Elsmore Park and two Howick public car parks.

In Maungakiekie-Tāmaki, sites have been approved at Panmure Lagoon’s Domain Reserve and the Panmure Wharf Reserve.

Puketāpapa Local Board is offering Margaret Griffen Park for the pilot and Albert-Eden Local Board has a site at Western Springs Garden car park.

Reducing the impact of freedom campers

“A key aim of the pilot is to try to reduce the impact of freedom campers on local access to parks, beaches and amenities,” says Councillor Linda Cooper, who chairs the council’s Regulatory Committee.

Throughout the trial, council officers will be ensuring the sites are kept well maintained and tidy, with clear access ways for the public to traverse and park.

“Park users and campers need to be kept safe, and toilets and other amenities need to be maintained in good operating order,” says Councillor Cooper.

Economic benefits of freedom camping

“We want to be welcoming hosts to our visitors," says Councillor Cooper. "Campers bring an estimated $1.2 million a month into our economy over summer."

"However, the influx of freedom campers into hotspot areas – particularly in north-eastern coastal and inner-city locations  is creating problems."

"Overcrowding, parking and access difficulties, and increasing rubbish at popular destinations are frustrating local communities and other park users."

Auckland is the gateway for most of the 3.4 million tourists that come to New Zealand and Auckland Council estimates 320 freedom camping vehicles a day are either travelling on the region's roads or parked in public places over summer.

“If we can encourage campers into new areas, we hope to reduce overcrowding and spread the tourism dollar to other local board economies, while also introducing visitors to some of the lesser-known but lovely corners of our city,” says Councillor Cooper.

A range of approaches 

The council is proposing a range of regulatory and non-regulatory approaches to try to move campers around Auckland.

“We’ll be making high-quality travel-planning information more readily available to campers, using social media and printed information about alternative paid and free camping sites,” says Michael Sinclair, Auckland Council's manager of Social Policy and Bylaws.

Information about day trips, events and things to do in participating areas will encourage campers to explore and enjoy their surroundings.

“We want to do everything we can to encourage voluntary moving on, including ensuring our suggested alternatives feel safe for visitors, so we have been careful with location choices and will have security monitoring at sites,” says Mr Sinclair.

There will also be increased monitoring of toilets and rubbish bins.

“During the pilot we will be vigilant with compliance monitoring. We will retain the ability to deploy a quick-response team to any areas not coping with demand, and we will modify the conditions of camping (for example, by reducing the length of stay) or even shut down designated sites if they are causing a nuisance,” he says.

A report on the pilot programme will be presented to the council later in 2017 and will help inform the development of policies and regulations on freedom camping in Auckland.

Auckland Council operates 44 campgrounds in regional parks throughout Auckland and there are also three holiday parks. Charges apply and bookings can be made through the council by phoning 09 301 0101.

 Freedom camping pilot sites


16-18 Griffen Park Road, Mt Roskill

Margaret Griffen Park

Spaces also available for non-self-contained campers

Local board

Site name and description

Park/Reserve name


956 Great North Road, Western Springs car park

Western Springs Garden car park


228 West Coast Road, Awhitū

Hamilton’s Gap


Rosa Birch car park off Beresford Street, Pukekohe

Rosa Birch Park, Pukekohe


Te Toro Reserve (within the signposted area)

Te Toro Reserve


10 King Street

Waiuku Service Centre


1482R Clevedon Kawakawa Bay Road, Kawakawa Bay

Whitford Point Reserve

Hibiscus and Bays

467 Hibiscus Coast Highway, Ōrewa

Arundel Reserve

Hibiscus and Bays

1311 Laurie Southwick Parade, Gulf Harbour

Gulf Harbour

Hibiscus and Bays

544 Hibiscus Coast Highway, Hatfields Beach

Hatfields Beach

Hibiscus and Bays

162 Brightside Road, Stanmore Road, Stanmore Bay

Stanmore Bay Park

Hibiscus and Bays

Waiwera, Rodney District

Waiwera causeway road reserve (adjoining highway)


67R The Esplanade, Eastern Beach, Howick

Eastern Beach Caravan Park


9 Wellington Street, Howick Village

Howick Village all day free car parking #1


41 Moore Street, Howick Village

Howick Village all day free car parking #2


2R Bells Road near the Pakuranga Bowling Club

Lloyd Elsmore Park


The car park adjoining the road beside the lagoon at 34-46 Lagoon Drive

Domain Reserve (Panmure Lagoon)

Spaces also available for non-self-contained campers


88 Centennial Park Road, Wellsford

Centennial Park, Wellsford


Near boat ramp at the end of Dawson Road, Snells Beach

Dawsons Landing, Snells Beach


2 Matheson Bay Road, Leigh

Matheson Bay Reserve


32 Tudor Collins Drive, Warkworth

Parry Kauri Park, Warkworth


Wellsford Valley Road, Port Albert

Port Albert Recreation Reserve

Spaces also available for non-self-contained campers


Matakana Wharf Road, Matakana, Rodney

Riverglade Lane Accessway and Esplanade Reserve


Sunburst Avenue, Snells Beach

Sunburst Reserve, Snells Beach


Dalton Road, Snells Beach

Sunrise Boulevard Reserve, Snells Beach

Upper Harbour

320 Rosedale Reserve, Rosedale

Rosedale Reserve

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