How to Park a Camping Vehicle
Road tripping in a motorhome or campervan is an extremely popular way to travel around New Zealand. For many of us, however, it’s the first time we’re driving a big bulky vehicle, which brings on anxiety sweats when just thinking about having to park these things! Well, never fear. We’ve put together some tips for parking a campervan or motorhome in New Zealand.
Have more questions about renting a motorhome? See our Step-by-Step Guide to Renting Your First Motorhome.
12 Quick Tips for Parking a Campervan or Motorhome in New Zealand
- Know the height of your vehicle
- Park where it’s easy to get out of
- Park where there’s space around the vehicle – don’t forget to check above!
- Avoid parking on wet grass or mud
- Avoid parking on an incline
- Prepare ahead if possible – research car parks for each city and book a campsite
- Know the freedom camping laws
- Get someone to guide you into tight spaces
- Watch out for verandahs overhead
- Park in designated spots for motorhomes where available
- Park on the outskirts of the town centre and walk if it’s too congested
- Secure your belongings before driving.
Tips for Parking a Campervan or Motorhome: Explained!
The key is space! Luckily, there is a lot of it in New Zealand so you’ll find parking a camping vehicle extremely easy in small towns and villages. In larger cities, however, parking is much more congested so it’s best to go in with a plan.
Know the Size of Your Vehicle
While knowing the exact length of your vehicle isn’t quite as important, knowing the height of your vehicle certainly is. Multi-level car parks, tunnels and driveways with annoying archways all exist in New Zealand. Nevertheless, they typically have a maximum height clearly displayed, so know your vehicle’s height before you drive on through.
Watch Out for Verandahs
Verandahs are a typical feature of New Zealand high streets, but some stretch out from buildings all the way to the road! Be careful when parking near them, as they may clip the top of your motorhome.
Use Dedicated Motorhome Parking Spots
Some public car parks in New Zealand’s largest towns and cities, as well as even supermarkets, have motorhome icons painted on parking spots. When you get to a new car park, have a drive around and look out for these spots.
Park at the Back of the Car Park
You know how humans are; most people will park as close to a supermarket, attraction or town as possible in order to save their legs. This often leaves spaces in the far reaches of a car park empty for the whole day, which incidentally makes parking a motorhome or campervan super easy.
It’s Ok to Park Across Two Spaces Occasionally
In some towns, caravanners are not left much choice but to park across two spaces, whether it’s horizontally in a car park or across two vertical spaces on roadside parking. If it’s too busy to do this, however, it’s best to find quieter parking outside of the town centre and to walk in from there.
Open Your Curtains
While mirrors are pretty good for seeing what is around your vehicle, you’ll increase the visibility tremendously by opening and securing all of the blinds and curtains.
Get Someone to Guide You
For parking in tight spaces, get your road trip sidekick to get out of the vehicle and guide you in. Work out some hand signals first so they can communicate when to stop, when to turn left and when to turn right.
Where Can You Park a Campervan or Motorhome Overnight in New Zealand?
There are camping laws in New Zealand, so you can’t park a campervan or a motorhome just anywhere. To makes things more difficult, every region has its own laws about campervan overnight parking, known as “freedom camping”.
Where Can You Park Your Campervan in New Zealand?
In New Zealand, you can park your campervan or motorhome overnight in one of the following places:
- Holiday parks
- POPs (Park Over Properties)
- Designated freedom camping areas
And essentially anywhere where you have permission if staying on private property. Note that if your camping vehicle isn’t certified self-contained, you will have to park your campervan in a holiday park or campsite; you are not permitted to freedom camp. For more details, check out Where Can You Camp in New Zealand if Your Campervan is Not Self-Contained?
What is a Self-Contained Vehicle?
A self-contained vehicle is a vehicle that is able to store at least three days’ worth of fresh water and wastewater and has a toilet on board. These must meet a particular standard to be given a Self-Containment NZS 5465 as the certification. A vehicle that is self-contained must display a blue self-contained sticker in order to freedom camp. Only self-contained campervans can park up somewhere for free and stay the night, except for zones that don’t allow camping. Find out more about Self-Contained Campervans in New Zealand.
To recharge the power in your camper, dump your waste and get some quick comforts, holiday parks are a popular place to park campervans and motorhomes. Holiday parks have powered sites and non-powered sites to park up your vehicle and make use of their facilities, including dump stations, kitchens, laundry, showers and sometimes more. To see what a holiday park is like in New Zealand, take a look at our Accommodation Guide to Holiday Parks in New Zealand.
Campsites are a little more basic than holiday parks, offering much fewer facilities. For this reason, they are cheaper (sometimes even free) and have the bare essentials to keep the environment tidy. Most of the campsites are run by the Department of Conservation (DOC). Find out more in What is the Difference Between a Campsite and a Holiday Park? Plus, see if it’s worth getting a campsite pass in DOC Campsite Pass: How it Works & is it Worth it?
Park Over Property (POP)
Some landowners allow self-contained vehicles to stay on their property overnight for a small fee.
Where Can You Park a Motorhome or Campervan on Public Land?
You will need to adhere to the local bylaws when parking overnight in towns, rest stops or by the beach, for example. You can check them out in Freedom Camping Rules in New Zealand: Region by Region.
More About Parking a Campervan or Motorhome in New Zealand
That’s it for our guide on how to park a campervan or motorhome in New Zealand, as well as where to park a campervan in New Zealand. For more motorhome advice, check out our other awesome guides:
- The Best Campervan & Motorhome Rentals in New Zealand
- 10 Things You NEED to Know About Camper Van Rental in New Zealand
- Vanlife: The Guide to Living in a Campervan
Finally, if there’s anything that we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in Renting a Campervan in New Zealand: The Essential Guide and How to Plan a Campervan Trip in New Zealand.