Freedom camping in New Zealand

Freedom camping is the ultimate budget-friendly option when travelling in New Zealand. Whether you’re on a cross-country road trip or simply looking to get out of town for the night, a little planning goes a long way.

To ring in the New Year, my partner and I headed out to one of his favourite  spearfishing spots: Cape Palliser, which I wrote more about in a previous post. I love this location because of the diverse landscape and seclusion from the bustling city of Wellington. Although the weather doesn’t always cooperate, the stars aligned for us to spend a night on the beach.

We arrived around 6pm, set up camp and made dinner with a cook set that we picked up during a Boxing Day sale. A compact set like this is perfect for both camping and backpacking excursions.




If you read my previous post about Cape Palliser, you’ll recall that there’s a seal colony in the area, which I’d personally forgotten about until I’d accidentally snuck up behind one basking in the sun and scared the poor thing – oops!

Once we claimed our area on the beach, we turned on some music, popped open a bottle of champagne and settled in the for evening.


For some people, New Years Eve is about big parties, all-night raves or a night out on the town. I’ve enjoyed my fair share of those evenings, but these days I love to reconnect with nature, experience a peaceful evening and disconnect from my phone and social media.

The feeling I experienced while watching the sun set and listening to the waves crash against the rocks is something that people don’t often have with today’s busy lifestyles. I soaked it all in as the stars came out and the only light was that shining from the lighthouse above.

The next morning we drove up the coast to find a prime spot for free diving. While Brett searched for crayfish, I stayed on the beach, drank a freshly brewed coffee and planned some goals for 2019. We easily had time to walk The Pinnacles before heading back to Wellington, but decided to save that for our next mini-vacation.

A grey, but warm morning at 20 degrees Celsius.

This trip reminded me how easy it to plan a quick getaway and take advantage of the Summer weather. Even if you “only have one day off”, you can easily leave town after work, set up camp, spend the next day along the coast and still make it home to catch up on Netflix before bed. There’s no excuse not to get out on a mini adventure!

It’s easy:

  • Pick a spot close by (up to 2 hours away)
  • Get your gear ready the day before, including groceries
  • Load up the car after work, and
  • Away you go!

One perk of freedom camping is that there’s no “check out time”, so sleep in, fix yourself a nice coffee in the morning, and take in the scenery before starting your day.

Commit to doing more of the things you love in 2019, disconnect from your phone and laptop when possible, and take every opportunity to explore more of this beautiful world.


If you’re new to freedom camping in New Zealand, it’s a good idea to check out the website first. There are rules and regulations that differ by region, and in this case, we camped at a free designated camping area, which had limited toilet facilities and no specified ‘camp sites’ per-se.