Free Camping in Queenstown
We’ll be honest, Queenstown is a bit of a tough one when it comes to freedom camping. If you want to freedom camp in Queenstown, first you need a certified self-contained sticker on display for most sites and second, you will have to be prepared to drive at least 30 minutes out of town. The benefit, however, is that this usually takes you to some stunning freedom camping spots along lakes and rivers. So where can you do free camping in Queenstown?
Because free camping in Queenstown is very limited, you might be interested in some alternative camping options listed in Where to Camp in Queenstown. Additionally, you may want to consider staying in one of the affordable 10 Best Hostels in Queenstown or 10 Best Budget Accommodations in Queenstown.
While we try to keep this article as up-to-date as possible, we also recommend checking out the local council website listed on Freedom Camping Rules in New Zealand: Region by Region for current laws on freedom camping.
Daytime Parking for a Campervan or Motorhome in Queenstown
For those with a motorhome, we suggest you do your daytime parking in the Boundary Street Car Park to avoid fines that you are likely to get if parked elsewhere. Get there early to secure a spot!
1. The Kingston Campsite
The Kingston Campsite is strategically located near the Devil’s Staircase, a renowned hiking trail known for its challenging yet rewarding ascent. Adventurous travellers can embark on an exhilarating journey through native forests and rocky terrain, soaking in the pristine beauty of the Southern Alps. Campers at Kingston can enjoy well-maintained facilities, including spacious tent sites and amenities designed to enhance the camping experience. The site is equipped with 50 self-contained spots, ensuring a comfortable stay amidst the wilderness. Visitors can gather around communal fire pits in the evenings, sharing stories and forging connections under the starlit Queenstown sky.
Location: 35 mins south of Queenstown via State Highway 6 then Kingston Road.
2. Kawarau Bridge Car Park
You know that place where people like to bungy jump? Well, you can camp there for free too if you have a certified self-contained vehicle. Stay for a maximum of four nights between the hours of 5pm and 9am. See the freedom camping notice by the DOC here.
Location: Just off State Highway 6 at the Kawarau Bungy Bridge. A 25-30-minute drive from Queenstown.
3. Rum Currie’s Hut
A freedom camping area for tents only, Rum Currie’s Hut allows free camping for a maximum of two nights in a single calendar month. Have a peek inside the historical hut, but note that you can’t sleep inside!
Location: Rafters Road, Gibbston Valley – see the map on the DOC Freedom Camping Notice. A 30-minute drive from Queenstown.
4. Crown Range Road Summit Car Park
Wake up to wonderful views from the Crown Range Road Summit Car Park. The car park is on the southern end of the Cardrona Valley and overlooks valleys leading to the lakes beyond. Note that camping here is restricted to certified self-contained vehicles only and can only be stayed at for a maximum of four nights per calendar month. It’s also worth noting that the road conditions and car park can be under snow in winter. Learn more about the weather and seasons in Queenstown here.
Location: Crown Range Road (at the top of the winding road when travelling from Queenstown). A 30-minute drive from Queenstown.
[CLOSED] Twenty Five Mile Stream
[Update: freedom camping along Twentyu Five Mile Stream is no longer available. We’ll list another freedom camping location in this spot when one becomes available].
A little further up from Meiklejohns Bay (see the closed freedom camping site below) is a freedom camping option under the Department of Conservation (DOC) rules of a maximum of four nights in a self-contained campervan. Please note that facilities at Twenty Five Mile Stream are limited and there are no toilets.
Location: 27km (17 miles) up the Queenstown-Glenorchy Road from Queenstown. A 30-minute drive from Queenstown.
[CLOSED] Gibbston Valley
[Update: freedom camping along the Gibbston Valley is no longer available. We’ll list another freedom camping location in this spot when one becomes available].
For those of you without a self-contained vehicle, one of your limited options for non-restricted freedom camping in the Queenstown area is east of the Gibbston Back Road and State Highway 6 intersection. That’s about 30 minutes drive from Queenstown. With limited parking in this small area, we suggest staying in paid campsites during your time in Queenstown. See our Where to Camp in Queenstown for your options.
Location: Between Gibbston Back Road and Victoria Flats Road.
[CLOSED] Meiklejohns Bay
[Update: freedom camping at Meiklejohns Bay is no longer available. We’ll list another freedom camping location in this spot when one becomes available].
30 minutes out of Queenstown, this is a good freedom camping option for those who want to escape the hustle and bustle and enjoy the Lake Wakatipu scenery. This is overseen by the Department of Conservation who have opened it up for freedom camping for self-contained vehicles staying a maximum of four nights.
Location: 25km up the Queenstown-Glenorchy Road from Queenstown. (30-minute drive from Queenstown).
[CLOSED] Queenstown Rotary Club
[Update: freedom camping at the Rotary Club car park is now prohibited. We’ll list another freedom camping location in this spot when one becomes available].
On the outskirts of Queenstown and along the Shotover River, the Queenstown Rotary Club is a good freedom camping option in Queenstown. Find the car park near the historic Shotover Bridge. Certified self-contained vehicles can park here for a maximum of two nights.
Location: Just off Tucker Beach Road toward the Historic Bridge, Lower Shotover off State Highway 6. (10-15 minutes drive from Queenstown)
More About Free Camping in Queenstown
Note that the bylaw for freedom camping is being reviewed in 2021-2022, where potentially more freedom camping areas will be made available for certified self-contained vehicles – see this page of the Queenstown Lakes District Council website for more information.
That’s it for our list of free places to camp and our guide to free camping in Queenstown. For more accommodation and camping advice, see the following guides: