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 on tens 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 11 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. Find out more about white water rafting here at 7 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.
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.
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.
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 limited spaces for motorhomes, campervans and caravans (not cars, utes, passenger vans etc.) to camp for two consecutive nights between the hours of 4pm and 9am. There are toilet facilities nearby.
Location: Hamurana Reserve, Hamarana Road (opposite Turner Road on the lakefront).
5. Lake Okaro Reserve
Not to be confused with the paid Lake Okaro DOC Campsite, Lake Okaro Reserve has a designated freedom camping area 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.
[UPDATE] Haupapa Street Car Park
[Update: Haupapa Street Car Park may no longer be a freedom camping spot in Rotorua; we will update this page once it has been confirmed].
Certified self-contained vehicles can park overnight for free between the hours of 5pm and 8am only. You will have to pay for parking outside of these hours.
Location: Midway down Haupapa Street in Rotorua city centre.
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:
- 20 Best Budget Accommodations in Rotorua
- The Travel Guide to Rotorua on a Budget
- 15 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Rotorua
Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in Where to Camp in Rotorua.