Freedom Camping Bylaw 2014

We made our first Freedom Camping Bylaw in December 2011, reviewed it and adopted a new bylaw in October 2014, and made some amendments in December 2015.
On this page you can read more about the purpose of our bylaw and some main rules about freedom camping in our district. You can also download the full bylaw and maps.

The consultation for our Freedom Camping Bylaw Review has now closed. Thank you to everyone who took the time to fill in our questionnaire. 
Hearings were completed in April. 
The deliberation meeting scheduled for 25 May 2021 has been postponed and will be rescheduled. Those who have made a submission will be notified of the rescheduled date.

The purpose of our bylaw is to prohibit or restrict freedom camping in particular areas of our district for one or more of three purposes: to protect the area; to protect the health and safety of people who may visit the area; or to protect access to the area. We're allowed to do this under the Freedom Camping Act 2011 and our bylaw is made under that Act.

As a general rule, if you stay overnight in an accessible public place other than in a campground, then you’re probably freedom camping. We have freedom camping rules for all public areas that the Council owns or manages and you need to comply with these or risk a $200 fine.

The big rule – you must be in a certified self-contained vehicle if you want to freedom camp. If you’re a tourist and don’t know if your vehicle complies, ask your rental company.

We have three classifications for freedom camping on the Coromandel:

  • Allowed
  • Restricted
  • Prohibited


For public areas that the Council own or manages, freedom camping in a certified self-contained vehicle is permitted, subject to any other controls that may be in place.


Freedom camping in certified self-contained freedom camping is permitted, subject to the following conditions:

  • Park only in the designated (sign-posted) area. A document showing all current designated areas in the district is included on the right-hand side of the page as a downloadable PDF. Signage is also erected at the sites to guide campers to where they can stay.
  • Depart by 9.00am.
  • Stay a maximum of two consecutive nights.
  • NB: some areas such as sports ground car parks have a further condition that: Notwithstanding restriction 3, all freedom campers must depart on Saturday mornings.


Freedom camping is not allowed in prohibited areas under our Freedom Camping Bylaw 2014. There are several reasons why an area is prohibited, including to protect habitats of endangered species, protect public access to reserves, and for health and safety reasons. All prohibited areas are clearly sign posted.

For full details and maps on which areas are restricted and prohibited from freedom camping, download the bylaw.

To find out other information about freedom camping go to our freedom camping page here.

1. Title

This Bylaw is the Thames-Coromandel District Council Freedom Camping Bylaw 2014.

2. Explanatory Note

The Thames-Coromandel District Council made its Freedom Camping Bylaw on 14 December 2011 under Section 11 of the Freedom Camping Act 2011. The 2014 review of this Bylaw is in accordance with section 13(1) of the Act.

As from the day on which this Bylaw comes into force, Part 9 Freedom Camping 2011 of the Thames-Coromandel District Council Bylaw 2004 shall be revoked.

This Bylaw should be read in conjunction with the Freedom Camping Act 2011.

The Council has an adopted Policy Statement with regard to freedom camping in the Thames-Coromandel District.

This Bylaw is not the only control document regarding freedom camping. The Freedom Camping Act 2011 addresses various issues such as offences and penalties. The Freedom Camping Bylaw and the Act allow for legal action with consequent fines.

Other legislation and regulatory tools are in use across the District relevant to the activity of freedom camping, such as the Reserves Act 1977, Council's District Plan, and other Council bylaws. Whilst Council endeavours to ensure consistency in its approach to freedom camping, there may be situations where this Bylaw allows freedom camping but as a result of other regulation it is not possible, and/or behaviour of people including freedom campers may be further regulated.

3. Commencement

This Bylaw comes into force on 01 December 2014.

4. Review

Review of this Bylaw will be undertaken in accordance with section 13(2) of the Act, being no later than 10 years after the last review.

5. Definitions

In this Bylaw, unless the context requires otherwise:

Act means the Freedom Camping Act 2011.

Camping ground has the meaning given in section 5(3) of the Act.

Certified self-contained means a vehicle designed and built for the purpose of camping which has the capability of meeting the ablutionary and sanitary needs of occupants of that vehicle for a minimum of three days, without requiring any external services or discharging any waste and complies with New Zealand Standard 5465:2001, as evidenced by the display of a current self-containment warrant issued under New Zealand Standard Self Containment of Motor Caravans and Caravans, NZS 5465:2001.

Chief Executive means the person employed by Council as the Chief Executive of the Council for the time being.

Community Board area means defined area within the Thames-Coromandel District, as defined by the Thames-Coromandel District and represented by an elected group of people.

Council means the Thames-Coromandel District Council.District means the Thames-Coromandel District.

Freedom camp has the meaning in section 5(1) and 5(2) of the Act. Holiday period means any weekend which immediately precedes or follows a public holiday, and includes the public holiday.

Local authority area has the meaning in section 6 of the Act.

6. Purpose

In accordance with the Act, the purpose of this Bylaw is to control freedom camping in the Thames-Coromandel District in order to:

a) protect local authority areas;

b) protect the health and safety of people who may visit local authority areas; or

c) protect access to local authority areas.

7. Local Authority Areas Where Freedom Camping is Permitted

Freedom camping is permitted in any local authority area within the District unless it is restricted or prohibited in an area:

a) in accordance with this Bylaw; or

b) under any other enactment.

8. Prohibited Areas as Outlined in Schedule One

A person must not freedom camp in any prohibited area that is local authority area as identified in Schedule One, without the prior written consent of the Council.

9. Restrictions on Freedom Camping as Outlined in Schedule Two

A person may freedom camp in any area that is local authority area identified in Schedule Two, pursuant to the restrictions listed for that area in Schedule Two.

10. Prior Consent From Council

Consent can be sought from the Council to allow freedom camping in an area listed in Schedule One, which may be granted with or without conditions. Consent must be applied for in writing to the Chief Executive of the Council at least 30 days in advance of the date planned for freedom camping in the prohibited area.

Permission can be sought from the Council to waive or modify freedom camping restrictions in an area listed in Schedule Two, which may be granted with or without conditions.  A waiver must be applied for in writing to the Chief Executive of the Council at least 30 days in advance of the date planned for freedom camping in the area.

Download the full bylaw, including the schedules (tables of prohibited and restricted areas) and maps.