5 Free Camping Spots in Rotorua© NZPocketGuide.com
5 Free Camping Spots in Rotorua

5 Free Camping Spots in Rotorua

© NZPocketGuide.com

Freedom Camping in Rotorua

Nothing sounds sweeter to a backpacker or budget traveller’s ears than the word “free”. Freedom camping in Rotorua is a great way to save tens or possibly hundreds of dollars when travelling around New Zealand. The Rotorua district has a limited number of free camping spots, most of which are only open to certified self-contained vehicles. Take a look at the list below for free camping spots in Rotorua.

Although the options are limited from freedom camping in Rotorua, there is a good selection of low-cost Department of Conservation campgrounds. For more information, check out Where to Camp in Rotorua. Wherever you decide to camp in Rotorua, remember to camp responsibly by following the 10 Golden Rules of Camping in New Zealand.

1. Trout Pool Road

You can sleep in any recreational camping vehicle (motorhome, campervan, caravan, etc.) in the car park at the end of Trout Pool Road, although tents, cars, utes and passenger vans are not permitted. Toilet facilities are available. Note that there are only six spots available. Make use of the Okere Falls Track and watch people white water rafting, as described in the 10 Best Places to Go White Water Rafting in New Zealand.

Location: 103 Trout Pool Road, Okere Falls. Do not camp at the first main car park; continue to the top/second car park to find the designated freedom camping area.

5 Free Camping Spots in Rotorua© RotoruaNZ

2. Hinemoa Street Car Park

Self-contained vehicles can park at the Hinemoa Street Car Park, opposite the Polynesian Spa, overnight for free. There are no facilities so make sure you take all your waste with you.

Location: In the Government Gardens at the eastern end of Hinemoa Street just before the Polynesian Spa.

5 Free Camping Spots in Rotorua© NZPocketGuide.com

3. Mataiawhea Street and Lakefront Drive Car Park

A suitable overnight parking area for certified self-contained vehicles is the Lakefront Drive freedom camping spot. Needless to say, this car park with just three spots for campervans and proximity to the lake is seriously popular, so you’ll be lucky to nab this spot. There are no facilities nearby so please take all your waste with you.

Location: Car park between Mataiawhea Street and Lakefront Drive.

5 Free Camping Spots in Rotorua© Paul Michael - RotoruaNZ

4. Hamurana Reserve

Approximately a 20-minute drive from Rotorua city centre, the Hamurana Reserve offers a city escape along the shores of Lake Rotorua. There are 10 spaces for motorhomes, campervans and caravans (not cars, utes, passenger vans, etc.) to camp for two consecutive nights between the hours of 4 pm and 9 am. There are toilet facilities nearby.

Location: Hamurana Reserve, Hamarana Road (opposite Turner Road on the lakefront).

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

5. Lake Okaro Reserve [UPDATE]

[Update: There is now a fee to pay to camp at Lake Okaro Reserve (although, it’s still much cheaper than other paid campsites). Prices are listed on the Rotorua Lakes Council website].

Not to be confused with the paid Lake Okaro DOC Campsite, Lake Okaro Reserve has a designated camping area for self-contained vehicles accessed off Waimangu Road. Although the lake isn’t good for swimming due to low water quality, it’s a popular place for birdwatching and trout fishing. You also have better access to Rotorua’s best geothermal parks compared to staying in the city.

Location: Waimangu Road, Lake Okaro Reserve.

5 Free Camping Spots in Rotorua© NZPocketGuide.com

More About Free Camping in Rotorua

That’s it for our guide to free camping in Rotorua. Note that more freedom camping spots in Rotorua may be listed on the freedom camping page of the Rotorua Lakes Council website. For more Rotorua accommodation advice, however, take a look at the following articles:

Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in Where to Camp in Rotorua.


Robin C.

This article was reviewed and published by Robin, the co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. He has lived, worked and travelled across 16 different countries before calling New Zealand home. He has now spent over a decade in the New Zealand tourism industry, clocking in more than 600 activities across the country. He is passionate about sharing those experiences and advice on NZ Pocket Guide and its YouTube channel. Robin is also the co-founder of several other South Pacific travel guides.

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