Take a few of minutes and browse through the most frequently asked questions on freedom camping in Waitaki.

Can I freedom camp?

Where can I freedom camp?

Waitaki District spans from the mountains of Ohau to the coast at Oamaru. Freedom camping is permitted for self-contained vehicles on the vast majority of public areas controlled or managed by Waitaki District Council. There are endless options for responsible freedom campers, with only a small number of locations where freedom camping is prohibited. Waitaki also has many privately-run campsites to choose from. Please view our online map for more information.

How do I find out the place where I want to freedom camp is managed or controlled by Council or someone else?

Please contact us on 03 433 0300 or email service@waitaki.govt.nz and we can check on the status of an area in Waitaki where you wish to freedom camp and help provide you with this information.

Please note: Some areas of public land and dry river beds are controlled by other organisations or government departments (particularly Department of Conservation). Permission should always be sought from the landowner before camping on any private land.

Are freedom camping rules the same all over New Zealand?

No. Different rules may apply in each district or city. Campers should contact the local Council where they intend to camp or visit the Council's website for further information on the rules that apply.

Please note: Freedom camping bylaws are only applicable in areas managed or controlled by that particular council. Freedom camping is generally permitted on any Department of Conservation land unless freedom camping has been prohibited or restricted there. For more information visit Department of Conservation website.

My vehicle has fresh-water and grey-water storage and an on-board toilet. Am I considered a self-contained camper in Waitaki district?

Although your vehicle may be capable of holding a certain amount of water and waste on-board, you need to be certified self-contained to New Zealand Standard (NZS) 5465:2001. For more information please visit Ministry for the Environment website.

I believe my vehicle meets all of the requirements of NZS 5465:2001 - how do I become certified?

Any plumber or other suitably qualified person registered under the Plumber, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Act 1976 is eligible to certify compliance with NZS 5465. In addition to registered plumbers, issuing authorities include the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association which has testing officers in multiple locations.

If I am travelling in a vehicle which is not certified self-contained and become too tired to continue, can I stop to rest overnight?

The Ministry of Transport advises that 'Driver fatigue is an important contributor to fatal and serious injury road crashes in New Zealand'. The Official NZ Road Code message is to 'Stop to revive, then drive' and recommends the following actions if you start feeling sleepy:

  • Don't keep driving – pull over immediately in a safe place (as far off the road as possible).
  • Move to the passenger seat and take a 15–20 minute power nap. A short sleep is very refreshing – try not to nap for a period longer than 40 minutes otherwise you may feel groggy and disoriented when you wake up and for quite some time afterwards (this is called sleep inertia).
  • Wait at least 10 minutes to make sure that you are completely awake before you start driving again.

If you still feel sleepy don't drive, find a place to sleep for an extended period or for the night. Several private campsites in Waitaki accept late arrivals. Travellers who are beginning to feel tired and are considering an overnight rest may wish to visit the nearest campsite to check availability.


Freedom camping infringement

A freedom camping infringement was left on my vehicle but no one woke me at the time to talk to me about it. Why does the Council do this?

Enforcement officers may visit popular freedom camping areas late at night or in the early morning to establish whether people are complying with the freedom camping rules. To reduce the potential for confrontation we try not to wake people who appear to be sleeping. Any explanation or reasons that campers have for their actions may be raised in the freedom camping infringement explanation form.

I camped in an area where freedom camping is prohibited and received an infringement notice. I did not see a sign to say freedom camping is prohibited. Is this a good reason for my infringement to be withdrawn?

Popular freedom camping areas in Waitaki have signs to tell visitors that freedom camping is prohibited, however the Freedom Camping Act does not require this. Visitors should familiarise themselves with the freedom camping information and maps on our website to identify suitable places to freedom camp.

To freedom camp on prohibited or restricted Council land is in breach of our bylaw and is a strict liability offence. This means that not seeing an signs is not a valid reason to explain why you were unaware of the rules.


Public toilets

If I have to go to the toilet somewhere but no public toilet is available, what is the best way to dispose of this waste?

The Department of Conservation has some great advice on disposing of human waste where no public toilet is provided. Please visit Department of Conservation website for more information.

However, we encourage people to plan their journeys and familiarise themselves with the location of public toilets. Please visit public toilets page for more information.