Freedom camping

Photo of Whangarei District Council freedom camping signs at a beach.

We ask all freedom campers to abide by the current Covid-19 Alert Level restrictions and actions as specified by the New Zealand Government.

COVID19 - New Zealand Government (covid19.govt.nz)

Camping can be a popular way to stay in the Whangārei District, especially in summer time but it works well for campers, residents and the general public only when the rules are followed. This includes:

  • not camping in some areas
  • sticking to time limits in others
  • a range of other requirements.

Changes for summer 2021 - 2022

To ensure everyone who wants to spend a day at the beach can do so and to reduce pressure on the environment during the busiest time freedom camping will be banned at several popular beaches over the height of summer.

We have opened up some other sites for freedom campers during this period, and we recommend people heading into the District to Freedom Camp, book ahead to secure spots at camp grounds.  

Sites that are closing

The following designated sites will be closed to freedom camping from 18 December 2021 to 8 February 2022:

  • Whangaumu Wellingtons Bay
  • Kowharewa Bay
  • Matapōuri (Wehiwehi Road)
  • Woolleys Bay West
  • Sandy Bay.

The Reyburn / Finlayson House Lane Carpark is permanently closed to campers and is now a prohibited site for all camping. 

New sites that are opening

New sites for fully self contained vehicles have been designated at:

  • Hātea East carpark (year round)
  • Tikipunga Sportspark - from 18 December 2021 to Northland / Auckland Anniversary day each year
  • Onerahi Sportspark - from 18 December 2021 to Northland / Auckland Anniversary day each year .

The designated sites in the main carpark at Ocean Beach will remain open, but the grass overflow carpark there is now permanently closed for all camping.

Freedom camping - book ahead to avoid disappointment

Failing to comply with the rules can result in a $200 fine under the Freedom Camping Act or an $800 fine under the Reserves Act.  Follow the rules and avoid a fine. 

The rules and camping locations are different for people staying in:

Our Camping in Public Places bylaw regulates camping in Council controlled public places in our District, but it does not regulate camping on Department of Conservation land, commercial campgrounds or other privately owned public spaces (e.g. supermarket carparks). 

You can be fined $200 if you do not comply with the rules.

Tips and notices for all campers

  1. Keep your campsite clean and tidy - leave no sign of your stay when you leave.
  2. Collect your rubbish and recycling then use a transfer station or dump station to dispose of it.
  3. Care for the environment, wildlife and public facilities such as toilets, signs and fences.
  4. Confirm that you are allowed to camp in your spot – from the maps below, a sign at the site, a freedom camping ambassador, or an iSite.
  5. Consider other people nearby – share the space, keep noise to a minimum.

Camping in a self contained vehicle

If you are certified self-contained (which means you have an approved wastewater system and holding tank) and you have a certificate and a warrant to prove it, you can camp in many places in our District.

Below are the sites where you can camp.

Location Number of spaces Max Stay
A H Reed Memorial Park - Whareora Road(PDF, 339KB) 2 marked sites 1 night
Bascule carpark - Port Road(PDF, 337KB) 8 marked sites (4 for large, wide vans, 4 for small vans) 3 nights
Beach Road reserve - Onerahi(PDF, 325KB) As many as can fit safely into the site - around 4 1 night

Hātea East carpark - Riverside(PDF, 428KB)

   
Kowharewa Bay(PDF, 313KB)

As many as can fit safely into the site - around 4

Closed - 18 December 2021 to 8 February 2022 

1 night
Manaia Walkway carpark - Whangārei Heads(PDF, 311KB) As many as can fit safely into the site - 2 to 3 1 night
Marsden Bay Reserve(PDF, 304KB) As many as can fit safely into the site - around 8 to 10 1 night
Matapōuri - Wehiwehi Road(PDF, 310KB)

As many as can fit safely into the site - around 4

Closed - 18 December 2021 to 8 February 2022 

1 night
Ngunguru Library - Ngunguru Road(PDF, 316KB)  As many as can fit safely into the site 1 night
Ocean Beach carpark(PDF, 378KB)

 As many as can fit safely into the site - around 4 

Grass overflow carpark is permanently closed for camping

1 night

Onerahi sportspark(PDF, 414KB)

Camping permitted from 18 December 2021 to Northland / Auckland Anniversary day each year. 

 
One Tree Point - boatramp carpark(PDF, 313KB)  4 sites 1 night
Parua Bay(PDF, 232KB) As many as can fit safely into the site - around 15 1 night
Reotahi(PDF, 243KB) As many as can fit safely into the site - up to 3 1 night
Ruakākā Beach reserve - Ruakākā(PDF, 294KB) As many as can fit safely into the site - around 6 1 night
Sandy Bay(PDF, 214KB)
(toilet block carpark / grass area)
As many as can fit safely into the site - around 4 1 night
Tamaterau(PDF, 274KB) As many as can fit safely into the site - 4 to 5 1 night
Tarewa i-Site - Tarewa Road(PDF, 534KB) 6 marked sites for small vehicles 1 night

Tikipunga sportspark(PDF, 480KB)

Camping permitted from 18 December 2021 to Northland / Auckland Anniversary day each year.  

 
Waipu Caves(PDF, 198KB) As many as can fit safely into the site - many 1 night
Wellingtons Bay - Whangaumu Reserve(PDF, 263KB)

As many as can fit safely into the site - around 4

Closed - 18 December 2021 to 8 February 2022 

1 night
Otuihau / Whangārei Falls scenic reserve - Tikipunga(PDF, 415KB) 4 marked sites 1 night
Woolleys Bay - western carpark(PDF, 243KB)

As many as can fit safely into the site - around 6

Closed - 18 December 2021 to 8 February 2022

1 night
  • You can also stay in the areas for non self-contained camping, but you must comply with all site restrictions.
  • You can stay for a maximum of three nights in any other of Council's public places, except for the prohibited areas. Once you have reached the limit of your stay, you must move at least one kilometre away for your next stay and not return for at least four weeks.

Your self-containment certificate allows you to stay ‘off the beaten track’, and we encourage this.

Please empty your holding tanks at one of the dump stations available.

Camping in a non-self contained vehicle

If you are camping in a vehicle or a caravan that is not certified as self-contained, you may camp at the locations below.

Location Number of spaces Max Stay
A H Reed Memorial Park - Whareora Road(PDF, 339KB) 2 marked sites 1 night
Bascule carpark - Port Road(PDF, 337KB) 8 marked sites (4 for large, wide vans, 4 for small vans) 3 nights
Kowharewa Bay(PDF, 313KB)

As many as can fit safely into the site - around 4

Closed - 18 December 2021 to 8 February 2022 

1 night
Manaia Walkway carpark - Whangārei Heads(PDF, 311KB) As many as can fit safely into the site - 2 to 3 1 night
Marsden Bay Reserve(PDF, 304KB) As many as can fit safely into the site - around 8 to 10 1 night
Matapōuri - Wehiwehi Road(PDF, 310KB)

As many as can fit safely into the site - around 4

**Closed - 18 December 2021 to 8 February 2022  

1 night
Ngunguru Library - Ngunguru Road(PDF, 316KB) As many as can fit safely into the site  1 night
Ocean Beach carpark(PDF, 378KB)

As many as can fit safely into the site - around 4

Grass overflow carpark is permanently closed for camping

1 night
One Tree Point - boatramp carpark(PDF, 313KB) 4 sites 1 night
Parua Bay(PDF, 232KB) As many as can fit safely into the site - around 15 1 night
Reotahi(PDF, 243KB) As many as can fit safely into the site - up to 3 1 night
Sandy Bay(PDF, 214KB)
(toilet block carpark / grass area)
As many as can fit safely into the site - around 4 1 night
Tamaterau(PDF, 274KB) As many as can fit safely into the site - 4 to 5 1 night
Tarewa i-Site - Tarewa Road(PDF, 534KB) 6 marked sites for small vehicles 1 night
Waipu Caves(PDF, 198KB) As many as can fit safely into the site - many 1 night
Wellingtons Bay - Whangaumu Reserve(PDF, 263KB)

As many as can fit safely into the site - around 4

Closed - 18 December 2021 to 8 February 2022  

1 night
Woolleys Bay - western carpark(PDF, 243KB)

As many as can fit safely into the site - around 6

Closed - 18 December 2021 to 8 February 2022  

1 night

Camping in a tent

There are six areas you can camp in a tent on public land.

Location Number of spaces Max Stay
Parua Bay(PDF, 232KB) As many as can fit safely into the site - around 15 1 night
Reotahi(PDF, 243KB) As many as can fit safely into the site - up to 3 1 night
Sandy Bay(PDF, 214KB)
(toilet block carpark / grass area)
As many as can fit safely into the site - around 4 1 night
Tamaterau(PDF, 274KB) As many as can fit safely into the site - 4 to 5 1 night
Tarewa i-Site - Tarewa Road(PDF, 534KB) 6 marked sites for small vehicles 1 night
Waipu Caves(PDF, 198KB) As many as can fit safely into the site - many 1 night

No camping areas

No one can camp in the following areas:

Coastal

Bland Bay Reserve(PDF, 239KB)

Helena Bay(PDF, 267KB)

Langs Beach - Cove Road beach access and carpark area(PDF, 287KB)

Marsden Point Wharf(PDF, 246KB)

Matapōuri – Morrison Road carpark(PDF, 323KB)

McAuslin Road, Matapōuri(PDF, 277KB)

Mcleod Bay - playground and reserve(PDF, 270KB)

Mcleod Bay - Stuart Road, all road reserve(PDF, 226KB)

Moureeses Bay(PDF, 258KB)

Ngunguru School(PDF, 245KB)

Ocean Beach - grass overflow carpark(PDF, 378KB)

One Tree Point Road layby(PDF, 296KB)

Otamure Bay(PDF, 223KB)

Pātaua South(PDF, 244KB)

Portland sportspark(PDF, 229KB)

Ruakākā - Princes Road Reserve(PDF, 240KB)

Ruakākā Recreation Grounds(PDF, 326KB)

Taiharuru(PDF, 227KB)

Teal Bay and Ngawai Bay(PDF, 235KB) (Teal Bay Recreation Reserve)

Tutukākā Marina Reserve(PDF, 443KB)

Urquharts Bay(PDF, 298KB)

Whananaki - Mangaiti Reserve(PDF, 341KB)

Whangaumu Reserve west(PDF, 298KB) (22 Whangaumu Street)

Woolleys Bay - eastern carpark(PDF, 259KB)

Urban / Rural

Abbey Caves - new carpark(PDF, 404KB)

Drummond Park Scenic Reserve(PDF, 462KB) (Parihaka lookout carpark)

Eliott Reserve(PDF, 614KB)

Finlayson Street / Reyburn House Lane carpark(PDF, 571KB)

Herekino Street service lane and carpark(PDF, 628KB) (behind 4-22 Herekino Street)

Hikurangi sportspark(PDF, 318KB)

Hora Hora sportspark(PDF, 508KB)

Kamo sportspark(PDF, 605KB)

Kensington Park(PDF, 1MB)

Koropupu Community sportspark(PDF, 780KB) (Springs Flat)

Mander Park(PDF, 628KB)

Morningside sportspark(PDF, 588KB)

Onerahi Beach Reserve(PDF, 467KB) (between Cliff Street and Johnson Street)

Otaika sportspark(PDF, 440KB)

Otangarei No. 1 Reserve(PDF, 618KB)

Otangarei sportspark(PDF, 842KB)

Port Road - service lane and carpark area(PDF, 418KB) (behind 11-67 Port Road)

Takahiwai sportspark(PDF, 218KB)

Whau Valley Dam(PDF, 268KB)

William Fraser Memorial Park on Pohe Island(PDF, 945KB)

Public and commercial campgrounds

For more information on campgrounds in our District, please visit our whangareinz website.

For information on Department of Conservation (DOC) campgrounds visit their website.

You can also obtain a weekly campsite pass from the Department of Conservation, where you can save up to 50% on many of DOC's campsites.

If you are an NZMCA member you can get a special DOC / NZMCA campsite pass. Follow the links below for more information.

If in doubt, please ask! You can find out more at our visitor information centre:

Responsible Freedom Camping Ambassadors

Our ambassadors visit popular freedom-camping sites and help campers to feel welcome and to understand the rules.

Having someone tell visitors about where to dispose of rubbish or how long they can stay makes them more likely to follow through. They might also ask about fun things to do in the area!

Volunteers are given training and access to everything they need to do a good job.

Responsible Freedom Camping Ambassadors