Freedom Camping in Wellington
You don’t have to dig too deep into your pockets when exploring the Greater Wellington region. The councils have been very generous with their freedom camping laws, giving those with a self-contained vehicle heaps of options to camp for free in Wellington – even in Wellington city itself! Just take a look at the list of free camping spots in Wellington below.
From the city to deep in the forest, there are many places you can camp for free in Wellington. Those with a non-self-contained vehicle have multiple Department of Conservation campgrounds and council-run campgrounds to make use of. But remember, where ever you end up parking for the night, please respect the 11 Golden Rules of Camping in New Zealand so these freedom camping spots remain free for the future.
So pack up your tent or put some gas in your camper and take a look at these free camping spots in Wellington!
1. Evans Bay Marina Car Park
Fora freedom camping spot in the city, try Evans Bay Marina Car Park. Freedom camping is only permitted for certified self-contained vehicles with a maximum stay of four days per month.
Location: Evans Bay Marina, Hataitai, Wellington
2. Motukaraka Point Reserve
If you have a certified self-contained vehicle you can stay at the Motukaraka Point Reserve for free as long as your vehicle isn’t longer than 7.5m (25ft). Only three campervans can be parked up at one time. A great option if you are exploring the Porirua district. While you’re there, try these 10 Fun Things to Do in Porirua.
Location: Motukaraka Point, Pauatahanui, Porirua
3. Ladle Bend
On the Remutaka Rail Trail, Ladle Bend is a basic and quiet free camping area only suitable for tents. Nearby is the Pakuratahi River, which makes it a pleasant camping spot in summer. Better yet, it’s all part of the 3-hour Remutaka Rail Trail hike/bike ride.
Location: Turn off State Highway 2, 9km (5.6 miles) north of Upper Hutt. The car park for the Rimutaka Rail Trail is 1km (0.6 miles) along a metal road. Alternatively, you can enter the Wairarapa end of the Rail Trail via Cross Creek Road (off Western Lake Road). From there, walk or bike to Ladle Bend which lies below the Rail Trail near the Pakuratahi River, 500m (547 yards) downstream off the bridge. It is well signposted on the trail.
4. Waikawa Campsite
Suitable for all camping vehicles and tents, the Waikawa Campsite is a free campsite maintained by the DoC. It’s a great place to watch the native birds and be surrounded by bush. There are no facilities other than water from the stream so be prepared.
Location: 9km (5.6 miles) north of Otaki on State Highway 1, turn east onto North Manakau Road. Gravel Road. (Kapiti district).
5. Raumati Beach Car Park (Garden Road/Matatua Road)
Park up with sensational views of Kapiti Island – a must-see at sunset. Walk straight onto the beach at this ideal freedom camping location for beach lovers. You must have a self-contained vehicle to camp here.
Location: Garden Road/Matatua Road car park, Raumati Beach on the Kapiti Coast (in front of Raumati Swimming Pool)
6. Paraparaumu Beach
Another beach-perfect spot along the Kapiti Coast for self-contained campers. Park in three areas designated for self-contained vehicles along Marine Parade, Paraparaumu Beach.
Location: The car parks opposite 54, 62 and 69 Marine Parade, Paraparaumu Beach, Kapiti.
7. Waikanae Beach
Yes, another picture-perfect beachfront freedom camping spot on the Kapiti Coast. Self-contained vehicles can stay in a number of designated areas in Waikanae:
- Waikanae River Mouth at the end of Tutere Street, Waikanae Beach
- Waikanae Park, Park Avenue, Waikanae
- Waimea Road beach car park, Waikanae Beach
- Field Way, Waikanae Beach car park on the north side of Waimeha Stream
Location: Waikanae, Kapiti
8. Otaki Beach
Our final freedom camping spot for self-contained vehicles along the Kapiti Coast is on Otaki Beach. Park up at North Bank, Otaki River.
Location: North Bank, Otaki River, Otaki Beach, Kapiti
9. Ngawi Camping Area
A free camping spot for all kinds of vehicles and tents. Situated in the South Wairarapa district, this seaside campground is run by the council. There are no facilities so be prepared.
Location: On the coastal side of Cape Palliser Road, opposite Ngawi settlement, Wairarapa
10. North Tora Camping Area
Another free-for-all-vehicles campsite in Wairarapa, unlike the South Tora Camping Area which is more suitable for tents. Enjoy this coastal camping ground off the beaten track.
Location: On the coastal side of Tora Farm Settlement Road, at the Awhea River mouth, Wairarapa.
11. Te Awaiti Camping Area
Yet another council-run freedom camping area on the south Wairarapa Coast. This might not be a great first choice as the camping area in the river flat by the Oterei River is prone to flooding.
Location: Between Te Awaiti Road and Oterei River, Wairarapa
12. Lake Domain Reserve
Situated in the Wairarapa Moana Wetlands, expect to see some interesting wildlife here. Camp for free in any vehicle or tent on the shores of Lake Wairarapa.
Location: on the northern shores of Lake Wairarapa just outside Featherston. Drive down Murphy’s Line and follow the Wairarapa Moana signs. The camping area is on the right when you get to the lake. Wairarapa.
13. Ocean Beach
Not the easiest freedom campsite to get to but those with the right vehicle (4WD) will be rewarded with a rugged coastal setting for camping.
Location: Take Western Lake Road from Featherston. (50-minute drive from Featherston).
14. Bucks Road Campsite
Set above the Tauherenikau River, this picturesque DoC campsite is ideal for those looking to do some hikes. Those with campervans can park at the road end, while those with tents can walk along a short track to a grassy area surrounded by regenerating bush.
Location: 15 minutes from Featherston, via Wakefield Sreet, Underhill Road then Bucks Road to end. 5km (3 miles) of gravel with steep sections.
[UPDATE] Graces Stream Campsite
[Update: Graces Stream Campsite is no longer free. There is now a NZ$6 charge.]
A backcountry experience not too far away from your car. Graces Stream is a free Department of Conservation campsite for tents only. It’s found only 15 minutes along the Five Mile Loop Track and close to other walks in the Catchpool Valley.
Location: South of Wainuiomata follow the Coast Road for 10km (6 miles) to the main Rimutaka Forest Park entrance. Drive 2.5km (1.6 miles) to the top Catchpool Valley car park. Part of this road is gravel. The campsite is found 800m (875 yards) along the Five Mile Loop Track. (Lower Hutt district)