Freedom camping

To make sure the region stays beautiful and accessible for all to enjoy Nelson City Council has adopted the Nelson City Freedom Camping Bylaw. This is now in effect so different rules now apply for non-self-contained vehicles and certified self-contained vehicles.  

Where to camp in Nelson - Non-self-contained vehicles only

Under the Nelson City Freedom Camping Bylaw, from 1 December 2017 camping in non-self-contained vehicles or tents is not permitted on any Council administered land within the Nelson region apart from within an official campground or with a private accommodation provider. Please be aware that Nelson City Council actively enforces the rules around Freedom Camping within the Nelson area.  If you breach the rules you can receive a $200 fineFines can be paid using our Payments Page.

Please note: If you have received an infringement fine and want to know how to appeal it, you can read about the process here.

If you are travelling in a non-self-contained vehicle (no toilet or washing facilities on board), here are some of the places you can stay:


Motor camps in Nelson City



Tahuna Beach Holiday Park

Self catering and self-contained accommodation, through to budget accommodation. Sites for campers, caravaners, backpackers, whether camping in motor homes, caravans, tents or budget cabins.

Maitai Valley Motor Camp

Nestled among 10 acres of native bush and trees. Peaceful surroundings with river, swimming hole and golf course close by. Clean, tidy facilities and grounds for your enjoyment and use. Camp sites, cabins and caravan hire.

Brook Valley Holiday Park

The Brook Valley Holiday Park is located only 4.5km from the city centre. A unique setting, surrounded by native bush, with many bush walks right on the door step. Cabins and campsites are available. 

Nelson City Holiday Park and Motel

Clean, tidy facilities and grounds for your enjoyment and use. Tent sites may be available on request, three standard cabins, TV room.


Find out more about Nelson's motorcamps.

You can download an information brochure for non-self-contained vehicles here. (1.8MB PDF)

Where to camp in Nelson – Self-contained vehicles only

For certified self-contained vehicles (CSC), some restrictions have been put in place in certain areas that control the numbers of vehicles and the areas where they can park, including parks and the central city area (as per below).  Freedom Camping is not permitted in other parks and reserves except within an official campground. These areas are outlined in Schedule One of the Bylaw. Read more here. 

You can use this interactive map to search on specific areas and see what restrictions are in place.

Please be aware that Nelson City Council actively enforces the rules around Freedom Camping within the Nelson area.  If you breach the rules you could receive a $200 fine.

Certified self-contained vehicle camping areas


Maximum number of certified self-contained vehicles

Wakapuaka Reserve Carpark


Maitai Cricket ground car park


QE II Drive Gardens

In any defined car parking areas 

Trafalgar Park – Haven Foreshore (Kinzett Terrace Carpark)

4 in northern Kinzett Tce area

Buxton Carpark


Montgomery Carpark

25  - please note freedom camping is not permitted from Friday 10pm until Monday 8am

Wakatu Carpark


Isel Park - Main Road Stoke carpark

3 in defined car parking areas

 In the central city parking squares (Buxton, Montgomery, Wakatu), please camp overnight in the designated areas only. These are marked out by signs and blue lines painted on the ground – it is not permitted to camp outside these lines.

The maximum period of stay in any of the restricted locations is two consecutive nights on no more than two separate occasions in any calendar month.

“Night” is defined as being from 10pm until 7am only.

Normal parking restrictions and charges apply from 8am-5pm weekdays and 9am-1pm Saturdays.

Vehicles and their associated possessions must remain within one single car parking space (where defined) or within 1 metre of the vehicle if a parking space isn’t defined.

You can download an information brochure for certified self-contained vehicles here. (1.7MB PDF)

The Nelson and Stoke central business districts have a 24 hour, 7 days a week ban on the consumption of alcohol. This includes areas such as the Buxton and Montgomery car parks and it is strictly enforced. To avoid the possibility of receiving a fine of $250 or Police arrest, please observe this ban.

Dump stations in Nelson Tasman

Free public dump stations

  • Nelson Public Dump Station, Mobil Tahunanui, 28 Tahunanui Drive
  • Fittal Street, off Beach Road, near Waste Transfer Station, Richmond
  • Entrance to camping ground, Collingwood
  • Abel Tasman National Park Toilets at Totaranui
  • Mobil Takaka
  • Golden Bay i-Site Visitor Centre
  • Hickmott Car Park, adjacent to New World Supermarket, Motueka
  • Nelson Lakes National Park Kerr Bay Camping Ground
  • Mobil Murchison

Additional dump stations where you must stay in order to use the service

  • Tahuna Beach Holiday Park, 70 Beach Road, Nelson
  • Maitai Valley Motor Camp, Maitai Valley, Nelson
  • Nelson Cabins & Caravan Park, 230 Vanguard Street
  • Richmond Motel and Top 10 Holiday Park, 29 Gladstone Road, Richmond, Nelson
  • Club Waimea, 345 Lower Queens Street, Richmond
  • Pohara Beach Top 10 Holiday Park
  • Abel Tasman Marahau Beach Camp
  • Kaiteriteri Beach Motor Camp
  • Bethany Park Christian Camp
  • Motueka Top 10 Holiday Park
  • McKee Memorial Recreation Reserve Campground
  • Mapua Leisure Park Holiday Resort
  • Greenwood Park Camping Ground, Appleby
  • Quinney’s Bush Camp and Caravan Park
  • Tapawera Settle Motels and Campground
  • Murchison Motor Home Park
  • Kiwi Park Motels and Holiday Park, Murchison

Sewage/wastewater disposal points on payment of a fee are available at:

  • Greenwood Park Camping Ground, Appleby
  • Motor Caravan Association dump station, Main Road Tapawera

MBIE responsible camping fund

Over the 2019/20 summer Nelson was successful in receiving Government funding for additional enforcement, waste management, a daytime responsible camping hub and a freedom camper survey.

Over the 2020/21 summer Nelson was successful in receiving similar funding, however without the daytime hub which was not re-established.

The results from the surveys are available here:

More information

You can find more information about camping throughout New Zealand at the website.

Also, here's more information on camping grounds and policies at Tasman District Council.