The wilderness that surrounds Queenstown is truly special. Our soaring mountain ranges, lush native bush and pristine waterways inspire awe in all who visit. Camping is the perfect way to connect deeper with this landscape.  

As you travel through our region, we invite you to be a kaitiaki (guardian) of our place, give back more than you take and take the time to understand the regulations and responsibilities around freedom camping in Queenstown.

Campsites at Driftaway Holiday Park in QueenstownDriftaway Holiday Park, Queenstown

Freedom Camping in Queenstown

If you’re planning to freedom camp in Queenstown, or around the South Island, here’s what you need to know. 

What does freedom camping mean?

Freedom camping, responsible camping, or free camping is when you camp on public land that isn't a recognised camping ground or holiday park.

Who can freedom camp in Queenstown?

If your campervan or motorhome is certified self-contained (with a toilet, wastewater tank and rubbish facilities on board) then you may camp overnight for free on most land administered by the Queenstown Lakes District Council, away from the town centres and residential areas.

Recent regulation changes mean vehicles will require a fixed toilet to be re-certified as self-contained. From 7 June 2025, all vehicles will need to be certified with a new green warrant – learn more about the changes here.

How to reduce your trace on this place:

Where can I freedom camp?

It’s worth doing a bit of homework to discover where you can freedom camp, and if in doubt, don’t stay the night. There are many places around town where camping is a no-go and fines of up to $600 may apply. Check out the map here to find out where freedom camping is off-limits around the district.

Only certified self-contained vehicles are allowed to freedom camp in Queenstown. If you’ve got a tent or your vehicle isn’t self-contained, head to one of our many camping grounds or holiday parks.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council website has the most up-to-date information and FAQs on freedom camping in the Whakatipu Basin.

Moke Lake QueenstownMoke Lake

Where else can I camp in Queenstown? 

Fortunately, the Queenstown region has many great camping spots, from fully serviced holiday parks to DOC campsites.

Queenstown holiday parks:

Laundry facilities, a central location, easy campervan parking and hot showers sound like your cup of tea? Head to one of our well-equipped holiday parks.

Queenstown local DOC campsites:

Bare necessities and intimate with nature more like it for you? Go for a DOC campsite.

Here's a guide to all of New Zealand’s DOC campsites, so you can find one wherever the road may lead you.

Campervans parked lakeside at Driftaway Holiday Park in QueenstownDriftaway Holiday Park, Frankton

Handy tools to help you on your travels

The CamperMate app will help you find places to set up camp around Queenstown and across the rest of New Zealand. It’s got handy filters to help you find the right camping spot for you and your vehicle. 

The Camping NZ app is preloaded with over 4000 council-approved camping locations across the country and can be downloaded for use offline.

Moke Lake Spring HikeMoke Lake, DOC Campsite

Tread lightly while camping in Queenstown

This land is precious, and we believe it’s possible to both enjoy and take care of it. We encourage you to look after our wild spaces so that they can continue to be enjoyed by generations still to come.

While you’re camping in Queenstown, minimise your impact by respecting people, wildlife and places – check out these handy Tiaki tips for treading lightly during your Queenstown trip.

You can help protect Queenstown's landscape by donating to Love Queenstown, a local community fund that supports our region's climate, conservation and biodiversity projects that actually make an impact.

As you explore Queenstown, share your experiences with us on Instagram and #QueenstownLive.