Freedom Camping in Taupo
There are several freedom camping sites in the Great Lake Taupo region where you can pull up or pitch a tent.
We support responsible camping and encourage the use of our many commercial camping grounds, so if you would prefer to have amenities close at hand or are traveling in a non-self-contained vehicle, contact one of our fantastic local holiday parks. Most holiday parks offer superb facilities including bicycle hire, swimming pools and the all important hot shower. However, if you do decide to freedom camp you can find some important information listed below.
Download the Where Can We Camp? brochure below
Reid's Farm Recreation Reserve
Reid’s Farm is a popular freedom camping spot located on the banks of the Waikato River on Huka Falls Road, five minutes north of Taupo. You can tent here or park your non-self-contained vehicle and stay up to 7 nights in any fortnight for free.
There are basic toilet facilities, showers and a large number of campsites, but no power or potable water supply. There is a permanent fire ban on this campsite (NO FIRES), and a complete liquor ban between noon on 27 December and 7am on 4 January.
This campsite is close to town and is a very popular spot for people learning how to white water kayak as it is the end point for guided kayak tours on the Waikato River. Reid’s Farm is also a popular venue for locals, and it's used a lot by travellers and sometimes by school groups.
The camping area had a bit of work done around the main entrance in 2014. Some poplars were removed as they were a safety hazard, and the area is gradually being drained and planted up with native vegetation.
Two of the older toilets have been removed and replaced with a lovely new triple unit, one cubicle of which will have disability access when the ramp is completed. These new Permacrete units are properly vented and smell great. The other toilets will eventually be replaced with something similar.
Dogs are permitted, but please keep them under control and clean up after them. The Waikato River that runs alongside the site is perfect for swimming in the summer.
Just right next to the Taupo Airport is a designated freedom camping spot for self-contained vehicles only, as there are no amenities nearby. This campsite is located 8 kilometres from Taupo town, or a 10 min drive south.
With approximately 35,000 aircraft landings and take-offs each year, Taupo Airport is the springboard for the largest commercial Tandem Skydive drop zone in the world and offers a range of scenic flights by helicopters, floatplanes and light aircraft.
Set up camp and watch the flights take off and land, as well as skydivers falling from the sky from the comfort of your camping chair.
Huka-Aratiatia Amenity Area
This is a Department of Conservation (DOC) managed campsite situated right next to the Aratiatia Dam. It has very basic car parking area restricted to self contained vehicles. You can camp here for 4 nights maximum in a single calendar month.
This campsite is very peaceful, with just the birds chirping away and very little road noise. Bring your mosquito repellent as they can be fairly prevalent here. There are many nice walks you can access from this campsite such as the Aratiatia to Huka Falls walk.
Five Mile Bay Recreation Reserve (Amenity Area)
This is a Department of Conservation (DOC) managed campsite located 8kms south of the town. If you are a self-contained campervan, you can stay for a maximum of four nights in a single calendar month. It's an awesome spot right on the edge of the lake with lots of areas to park up, plenty of picnic tables and a public toilet. Look for the sign on the main road pointing to the '5 Mile Bay Ski lane', follow that and you'll get there.
The lake is very safe for swimming and if you purchase a licence for fishing, you can try and catch some for dinner. There is a river mouth a little bit south from here that is quite popular with fly-fishing anglers, as the trout position themselves near the river mouth in order to catch any insects that come down the stream. Here’s how you can purchase your fishing license.
While it’s located right next to State Highway 1, it’s far enough away to be out of earshot. It’s a busy road for trucks around here as forestry is big in the area, however these won’t bother you and the site is actually quite peaceful.
Ferry Road is a freedom camping site in Taupo, located just past the traffic lights towards the lake. There are no amenities here, but if your vehicle is self-contained you can park here for up to two nights for free between 5pm and 10am daily. Ferry Road is very central, Taupo’s town centre and the SuperLoo; with paid showers and toilets are just a couple of minutes walk. The library is also walking distance, located behind the Taupo i-SITE with toilets and free Wi-Fi facilities.
Towards the marina on Ferry Road is another freedom camping spot. The rules here are the same as Ferry Road, but here you will find toilets and clean drinking water. While you are camping in town please be a tidy kiwi and clean up after yourself and be sure to abide by the liquor ban regulations in place on Ferry Road on all Public Holidays and between 4pm Thursdays to 7am Monday year-round.
Turangi also has a free camping spot at the marina on Kaiwaka Street where you can tent, van or campervan for up to two nights. There are toilet facilities and water nearby. As always with responsible camping, please be sure to clean up after yourself when you leave.
Mangakino Recreation Reserve
The Mangakino Recreation Reserve is located on the right of Lake Road and down to the edge of Lake Maraetai in Mangakino. The designated camping area is located between the Pouakani Marae and ‘Bowling Club’. Entrance to this area is off Moana Crescent.
There is very limited camping space close to the toilet block at the lake front, where power outlets are available for $5/night (paid to The Bus Stop Café). Campers may stay a maximum of two nights, or one night between Christmas Day and the 10th of January.
Located between Mangakino and Whakamaru on the edge of Lake Maraetai, this camping area is in the paddock near the toilet block with no power available. Campers may stay a maximum of two nights here, but this reserve is often used for events so please check the events page to make sure it is available for camping. The Motocross Park is adjacent to the camping area and is open during daylight hours.
Whakamaru Recreation Reserve
The Whakamaru Reserve is located on Pokuru Road on the edge of Lake Whakamaru, adjacent to the Whakamaru Ski Club building. There are toilets onsite but no power available. Campers can set up camp for up to two nights year round except between Christmas Day and the 10th of January when the site is reserved for members of the Whakamaru Ski Club only.