Should You Get a DOC Campsite Pass for New Zealand?
Stay in the great outdoors, either in a tent or a camping vehicle; at road accessible campsites or along the hiking trails, in one of the Department of Conservation (DOC) campsites. There are more than 200 campsites across the country that are managed by DOC, making it well worth considering a DOC Campsite Pass. But will the Campsite Pass really save you money? Find out how the Campsite Pass works and whether it is worth purchasing in this guide.
And for more prices that are worth knowing, check out How Much Does it Cost to Travel New Zealand?
Campsite Pass Price
- 7 Nights Pass – adult (18+) $55; youth (5-17) $27.50
- 30 Nights Pass – adult (18+) $80; youth (5-17) $40
- Annual Pass – adult (18+) $140; youth (5-17) $70
Infants under 4 years old are eligible for a free campsite pass. Note that there are discounts available with the NZMCA, YHA and some local alpine clubs and organisations.
Where Can You Use a Campsite Pass?
A DOC Campsite Pass can be used at 94% of all DOC campsites around New Zealand, in other words, 195 out of 208 paid campsites. That’s a lot of campsites, making the campsite pass well worth buying if staying at many within a week, month or a year. However, there are some campsites that are either not eligible all year or during selected seasons.
Campsite Pass Exclusions
These are the types of campsites that Campsite Passes are not valid for:
- Great Walk campsites
- Te Urewera campsites
- Popular campsites including Kapowairua (Spirits Bay) Campsite, Rarawa Beach Campsite, Tapotupotu Campsite,
Wentworth Valley Campground, Dickey Flat Campsite, Hot Water Beach Campsite (Tarawera), Whakapapa Holiday Park, Moke Lake Campsite, Twelve Mile Delta Campsite and Kinloch Campsite.
- Popular huts between December 26 and February 8, including Trounson Kauri Park Campsite, Tōtaranui Campground, Kerr Bay Campsite, Momorangi Bay Campsite, Pelorus Bridge Campsite and Peel Forest Campsite.
See a full list of campsites where the Campsite Pass is not valid on this page of the DOC website.
Are Campsite Passes for Tents or Campervans?
Both! The Campsite Pass is to pay for the person that the pass belongs to; not the tent or camping vehicle. So whether you’re staying in a tent in a DOC campsite or parked up in a campervan, campercar or RV, you can use your Campsite Pass.
Is the Campsite Pass Worth it?
If your plans are to mostly stay in any of New Zealand’s Great Walks campsites or other non-eligible campsites, the Campsite Pass might not be for you.
On the other hand, the campsite pass can be of good value if you plan on staying in many campsites within a week, month or a year. For example, it would be worth having a Campsite Pass if staying in at least six scenic campsites or 10 standard campsites within a month, bearing in mind that individual tickets for scenic campsites are NZ$15 per adult and standard campsites are NZ$8 per adult. Check out more campsite prices in our guide to camping in New Zealand.
How Does a Campsite Pass Work?
Campsite Passes work differently depending on whether you’re staying in a bookable campsite or a first-come-first-served campsite (i.e. a non-bookable campsite).
Using a Campsite Pass to Book a Campsite
Some DOC campsites can only be stayed in if booked. Find out whether you need to book your chosen campsite on the DOC website. Bookable campsites are selected to show on this page of the DOC website.
If your chosen hut is a bookable campsite then log in to your DOC account on the DOC online booking page. Type in the name of the campsite you wish to stay at and enter the number of people who hold a Campsite Pass and the number of people who do not hold a pass. The booking system will calculate fees payable, which should be zero if everyone in your group has a pass (and the campsite you’re chosen is not one of the pass-excluded campsites).
After reviewing the booking and terms and conditions, click “reserve” and you should receive an email confirmation. Take this confirmation and a copy of your Campsite Pass with you to the campsite.
Using a Campsite Pass to Pay at a First-Come-First-Served Campsite
At a non-bookable campsite, write down the details required on the self-registration envelope/document. Also have proof of a Campsite Pass, print or digital, and identification in case they are requested by a campsite warden.
How to Buy a Campsite Pass
There are two ways to buy a Campsite Pass; either online or through a DOC visitor centre.
Buying a Campsite Pass Online
Buy a Campsite Pass on DOC’s online booking website. You’ll need to create an account, select a pass and choose a date that you want to first use your pass on. After making the payment through their website via credit/debit card, your Campsite Pass will be linked to your DOC account. Plus, you’ll receive a booking confirmation email along with a digital pass PDF to either print or show to campsite wardens when required.
Buying a Campsite Pass at a DOC Visitor Centre
You can also purchase a Campsite Pass at any DOC visitor centre. Find your nearest visitor centre here. Alternatively, call either the Nelson Visitor Centre or Kauaeranga Visitor Centre who can purchase a pass online for you for a fee.