Freedom camping: what you need to know this summer

Publish Date : 21 Nov 2022
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Auckland’s array of beautiful beaches and reserves are sure to be as popular as ever this summer, and the trend is expected to continue into the new year as we head into long-weekends.

We know people will be keen to get out and enjoy Auckland’s beautiful green and blue spaces over the holiday period so we are reminding would-be campers of the rules, to make sure that everyone can enjoy what our region has to offer safely and respectfully.

Where you can freedom camp

Auckland Council Acting Manager Compliance Response and Investigations Paul Cowling says that freedom camping in vehicles is allowed in designated areas across the region.

“You can freedom camp in a certified self-contained vehicle on most council-controlled public land in Auckland, including most roadsides,” says Paul.

Guidelines for freedom camping

To freedom camp in Auckland, you must:

  • use a certified self-contained vehicle
  • stay a maximum of two nights in the same road or off-road parking area
  • vacate your parking space by 9am on the day you leave
  • not return to stay in the same road or off-road parking area within a two-week period, which starts from 9am on the day of departure
  • comply with special rules for freedom camping on Waiheke Island
  • not stay in any area where freedom camping is prohibited
  • comply with any special rules for freedom camping in restricted areas
  • comply with other rules about disposal of waste and responsible freedom camping.
Don’t camp illegally

Paul says while tents and other forms of shelter are permitted at our beaches and reserves during the day, freedom camping, or staying overnight in a tent, is not.

“Over the summer, the council’s Compliance and Parks and Community Facilities teams, supported by a team of security officers, will be visiting some of the region’s hotspots to educate visitors on the rules around freedom camping and camping.

“Most visitors will be enjoying day trips, setting up tents for shelter from the sun. However, for those intending to stay overnight, we’ll be reminding them that camping is only permitted in areas specifically set aside for that purpose, and they will be asked to move on.

“If you’re not sure, look for signage. And please don’t park on green spaces in our parks and reserves – your vehicle could be towed as a result.

“While our preferred approach when it comes to enforcement is education, we do have the option to issue trespass notices and infringement fines if required. 

“Ultimately, we may also consider action under the Reserves Act, which can result in penalties of an infringement of $800 or prosecution.

“If you suspect someone is camping illegally, we ask that you contact us to report it on 09 301 0101, and that you include as much detail as possible, like vehicle registration and descriptions of those camping. This will aid our investigation and enforcement action, if required.”

Holiday parks and campgrounds

“Ahead of the upcoming holiday season, we’re encouraging those who would like to camp to explore alternative options, including booking into a campground or a holiday park.

“The council operates a number of holiday parks and campgrounds, where you can stay in some of the region’s most popular and beautiful locations, for very affordable rates.

“One benefit of pitching your tent in a holiday park is guests have access to all park facilities including playgrounds, bathrooms, kitchen and BBQ facilities and coin-operated laundry facilities.

“And if you’re looking for a more basic and classic kiwi camping option near the beach, there are hundreds of spots available at our regional parks from as little as $16 per night or $8 per night at one of our self-contained vehicle camping spots,” says Paul.

Find out more

You can find more information about the council’s accommodation options and the Te Kaunihera o Tāmaki Makaurau Te Ture ā-Rohe Noho Puni Wātea ā-Waka 2022 / Auckland Council Freedom Camping in Vehicles Bylaw 2022 at the Auckland Council website.

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