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Motorhome Parks

Safe havens with paradise at your doorstep...

Visitors to New Zealand often comment that the country is the perfect place in which to travel by motorhome. The quality and abundance of our holiday parks, Department of Conservation campsites and freedom camping opportunities combine to attract praise and make independent travel a breeze. New Zealand has over 300 holiday parks and campgrounds offering safe and friendly accommodation with full facilities, powered sites and very reasonable fees. The Department of Conservation maintains a further 200 campsites at a modest cost in scenic locations throughout the country. Freedom camping is also permitted in most regions.

Motorhome parks in New Zealand are generally open year round and most provide full kitchen, bathroom, laundry, wifi and waste dump facilities. Many boast spectacular locations beside beaches, at thermal springs, next to national parks, alongside rivers and lakes, and in urban centres. Reservations are not necessary except during the peak summer holiday season from Christmas until mid-January, when the locals often take their annual family holidays.

Holiday Accommodation Parks of New Zealand

Holiday Accommodation Parks of New Zealand (HAPNZ) is the national motorhome park association and has approximately 300 member properties. Beneath the HAPNZ umbrella are three major chains of holiday parks; Family Parks of New Zealand, Kiwi Holiday Parks and Accommodation and Top 10 Holiday Parks. Regular users of holiday parks - such as those on a motorhome vacation - have the option of joining loyalty programs upon arrival that offer discounted access to all properties within the chain for a membership fee of approximately $NZD50. The cost of joining is recovered after ten stays at member properties and membership includes discounts at a wide range of local businesses such as sightseeing and attraction operators along with some cafes and restaurants. As no single holiday park chain achieves representation in every location you are likely to visit during your travels, membership generally requires a road trip of more than three weeks’ duration to achieve value for money. While each chain maintains their own website, the HAPNZ site offers a convenient one stop shop for locating 75% of all parks nationwide.

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Department of Conservation campsites

The Department of Conservation (DoC) manages over 200 vehicle accessible camping areas on conservation land throughout the country. Many are found in the classic scenic settings that New Zealand is renowned for - from lush forest and lake shores to sandy beaches and alpine locations.

DoC campsites offer a variety of standards, but are generally basic with facilities ranging from informal sites featuring very simple services to a few well serviced properties with a camp warden, kitchens, hot showers and waste disposal stations. They offer a great compromise between commercial holiday parks and freedom camping. At around $NZD20 per night for two people with a self-contained vehicle, fees for the basic campsites are approximately half the cost of staying at holiday parks. DoC operates an excellent website for researching and locating campsites in superb locations. Payment is often by self-registration upon arrival, with a vehicle tag to be displayed for daily ranger checks. Seven day campsite passes can be purchased at approximately half the cost of casual visits. However passes must be used on consecutive nights once activated and are often of limited value to those travelling by campervan on typical itineraries that may only occasionally pass through conservation areas.

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Drivers entering DoC campsites during wet weather are advised to exercise special caution due to the ease with which vehicles become bogged. As such sites are often outside of phone coverage, organising salvage assistance can be both time-consuming and expensive.

Freedom camping

Variously known as free camping, dry camping and boon docking in other parts of the world, one of the wonderful benefits available to those who travel by motorhome is the freedom to stop at your leisure - whether to brew up a cup of coffee or to cook a hearty meal and stay the night. Throughout your journey you’ll find opportunities to park up with an alpine vista outside your kitchen window or the beach outside your bedroom door, in a country that many consider to be paradise on earth! All New Zealand Frontiers motorhomes are certified as self-contained and fully equipped for freedom camping with gas stoves and heating, ample 12 volt power supply (supplemented by solar charging) to operate the refrigerator, toilet, lighting and pressurised water system.

You only need use common sense when choosing a place to stay:

• Is it safe and clear of the road?

• Is the ground stable to drive on?

• Will your vehicle or activities be likely to cause environmental damage?

• Is it private land?

• For your comfort you will want to find a place which is flat and level and which is quiet. Respect the local people and do not park in front of houses or where you might annoy others by crowding their space or spoiling their view.

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Friendly advice from a local...

In recent years the use of both rental and private motorhomes has become very popular in New Zealand. Local authorities have responded to environmental responsibilities, safety considerations, commercial interest concerns and pressure from constituents by creating policies on the topic. Unfortunately such laws are established on a regional basis and vary from general prohibition to active encouragement. Should you anticipate engaging in freedom camping you are advised to seek advice from the nearest information centre. Some councils have created designated areas that freedom camping must be confined to. Always check for and obey signs which forbid camping. You must obey any enforcement officers and ensure you leave no trace of your visit. "Take only photographs and leave only footprints" Never dump your grey or black water anywhere other than at a dump station and always take your rubbish with you.

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New Zealand values its 100% Pure image. The Tourism Industry Aotearoa and other associated organisations operate the New Zealand Responsible Camping Forum to provide advice and promote responsibility among freedom campers. New Zealand Frontiers supports the values of the Responsible Camping Forum and encourages all visitors considering freedom camping to visit the forum’s website and adhere to the motto 'Assume nothing - always ask a local'. Apps like Camper Mate are comprehensive and convenient ways of finding overnighting opportunities. Once downloaded they operate even in remote areas without phone or internet cover. Holiday parks offer many benefits and most people who freedom camp also use holiday parks at frequent intervals for the laundries, dump sites, water sources and other facilities they offer travellers.

Handy resources

HAPNZ (Holiday Accommodation Parks of New Zealand)

DoC (Department of Conservation)

Responsible Camping Forum


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