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Saturday, 26 February 2011

Freedom Camping in New Zealand - Page 2

Written by Alicia Harney
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Do take out full insurance. It is costly, but after a broken window on our third night, we were happy to have the stress of paying for it off our shoulders. Particularly useful on long term rentals are capped rates. Escape Rentals offer a reasonable $700 cap.

Do not pay for internet

This is a simple and straightforward tip, but anyone away from home for long periods of time knows the value of checking emails and “touching base” with home. Internet rates vary greatly ($2 - $6/hr), but many coffee shops (Esquires) and bars offer free wifi with a purchase. Better than that, many local libraries offer completely free internet access!

Gypsy camping grounds

Some local councils offer areas of land that can be used by campers free of charge. They have toilet facilities and sometimes even BBQ grills. These areas are often right in townships, with the best on offer in Southland District Council zone. Check in local iSites and on council websites for details.

Look out for Department of Conservation campsites. Charging very little, they offer a great option for those on a budget. Although in the summer more of the sites are open and more facilities are offered, they still give you somewhere to rest your head safely. They are especially useful in council areas where freedom camping is banned, and campsites have raised their prices accordingly (Deer Valley Camp about 40km from Hanmer Springs Village for example). Take time and plan your route, and where you will sleep each night!

Free activities

My top free activities are the ones that other people are paying for! Harvest your own green-shell mussels from the rocks by the coast and cook yourself a delicious sunset meal. Stop at local produce shops, which often offer free tastings and mouth-watering treats to take back to the van for later! Take the tourist routes and enjoy the scenery from your own bedroom!

On the South Island; see the endangered yellow-eyed penguins waddle clumsily ashore from the lookout above the petrified forest in Curio Bay. Soak in the natural hot pools at Sylvia Flat, only 30km or so from the thermal resorts at Hanmer Springs. Take a stroll along the Kaikoura Peninsula, but watch you don’t trip over a southern fur seal!

Have fun!

Not all activities in New Zealand can be done for free; I certainly don’t advise a DIY bungee jump or homemade skis, but shop around to get the best deal available. Don’t commit until you have priced everywhere else and know what you are getting for your money! The cheapest company may not be the best for your needs; sure you can see dolphins from a boat, but if you want to swim with them you have to pay a little more!

Lastly, collect any vouchers that you may get on the back of shopping dockets and receipts, or hidden in the pages of tourist pamphlets and newspapers. These alone can save you a small fortune, with buy one, get one free and half-price offers regularly popping up!

Now go enjoy the peacefulness of Cape Reinga, burn your bum in your own spa at hot water beach, say “Kia Ora” to a Maori in Rotoura. Don’t forget to salute Mt Cook while cuddling a Kiwi and drinking some Speight’s; just make sure your handbrake is up for the night!

©Alicia Harney is a 23-year-old teaching graduate, who, after finishing university, decided not to apply for a near nonexistent job in teaching during the credit crunch, and instead used her hard-saved cash to travel around the world! She left the "Big freeze" in Northern Ireland on New Year’s Day with her boyfriend and has been traveling in South America for 5 months, and Easter Island, Tahiti and New Zealand for 9 weeks.  During that time they have kept a blog of their adventures; ( The journey is not yet over, and they have taken a break in Australia before heading on through Asia.

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Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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