Where can you sleep during a road trip in a campervan?
It all depends on your budget and the opportunities based on the course of your trip, of course, but here are some options:
1/ Commercial campgrounds:
This is the most comfortable solution and you will find a range of facilities and prices. The main advantage is that you can use the equipment offered on site: kitchen, bathroom, power, drinking water, food, etc.
2/ Public campsites:
These campsites are managed by the DOC (department of conservation).
Over 250 campsites are located in some of New Zealand’s most beautiful regions. There are three grades of DOC campsites, and the cost and the level of facilities will vary accordingly. Prices vary from $0 to $19 / person / night. Usually there is no onsite manager and its on a self service base, using an honesty box for the payment for instance.
3/ Free campgrounds:
Some of the above mentioned DOC Campsites are free.
Many other free camping areas are suitable only for self-contained vehicles and are managed by councils or local domain boards.
Most are equipped with toilets and stays are often limited to one or two nights.
You can also use the resting areas on the side of the road. Designed to take some rest during a long drive, as their name suggests, these spaces often include toilets, water and picnic tables.
4/ Wild camping “freedom camping”:
It is free … sometimes!
Stopping in the middle of nowhere, in front of a beautiful landscape and parking your van for the night may seem the best solution, but be mindful as you could well be in an area where camping is not allowed.
If you are in breach of the local council rules on free camping, you can get fines of 3 or even 4 digits. Local rangers and police are making sure that these rules are well respected. So keep an eye out and obviously avoid settling for the night next to a sign “No camping” or “No overnight stay”.
However you can freedom camp on some local council land. The challenge is that every district and council has different regulations, and council rules are also different from the rules you have to follow on DOC land.
Find out beforehand to be certain that freedom camping is allowed in your location!
5/ Paid private driveway:
Some people around New Zealand offer to host self-contained vehicles with the possibility to park on their driveway and sometimes use their amenities (power, drinking water, washing machine, wifi…).
Regardless of where you go and stay, remember a few things:
– Be respectful… use the bathrooms and camp only where you are allowed to.
– Drive safely… and according to the conditions. Check the weather forecast before making a move.
– Have fun out there in the wild… but always respect the environment and take your rubbish with you.
A few useful apps:
Check out CamperMate, Rankers Camping NZ, and Campable apps to find campsites, toilets, waste stations and much more…