Freedom Camping policy

Thinking about freedom camping during your stay in New Zealand? Please ensure you understand the rules.
Rakaia Gorge Bridge

One of the major attractions of the Mid Canterbury district is its beautiful scenery and the freedom to be able to experience this landscape. Freedom camping is a popular choice for locals and tourists alike, and we welcome you to experience being close to nature in a responsible manner. Please respect the district to ensure our freedom camping areas remain for everyone to enjoy.

The Freedom Camping Act 2011 enables freedom camping in the Ashburton District, as long as it adheres to bylaws and the Department of Conservations conservation areas. Read the relevant freedom camping bylaws and conservation areas.

There are many scenic locations for freedom camping within the region from the heart of rural farmland to rugged coastal stretches.   Although many are only suited for self-contained units, information on camp facilities including toilets can be found on the camping page

There are specific waste facilities provided in our District for you to dispose of your rubbish. Some are commercial ventures and involve a charge. These can be found in;

  • Rakaia River Holiday Park, 16 Main South Road, Rakaia
  • Coronation Holiday Park, 780 East Street, Ashburton
  • Ashburton Holiday Park, Tinwald Domain,  Maronan Road, Ashburton
  • Methven recycling drop–off facility, corner of Methven Chertsey Road and Line Road, Methven
  • Mt Somers Domain, Hoods Road, Mt Somers  

Some washing detergents and soaps can be toxic to aquatic wildlife so please do not discharge waste water from washing activities in or near streams, rivers or the ocean.

Freedom camping bylaws and conservation areas

The following  Ashburton District bylaws have relevance to freedom camping

Chapter 10: Transportation and parking management

No person shall (except as permitted in this chapter or any other part of this bylaw or by statutory provision) camp in or upon any public place where they may cause a nuisance to other persons

Chapter 18:  Parks and public gardens

No person shall place, put up or erect any stall, tent or structure of any kind within a Park or Public garden except with the specific permission of a Council officer and then only in accordance with any and every condition attaching to any permission so granted.

The Department of Conservation website outlines specific conservation areas where freedom camping is prohibited or restricted. This includes the Clearwater boat launching car park in the Hakatere Conservation Area. Please refer to the camping sub section for more information.