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   Free Camping

Options in Southern Fiordland


Free camping or freedom camping is a popular option for the budget traveller and can be enjoyed in many places around NZ. However, due to people using the pristine beauty of our landscapes as toilets with no respect for the land or those who share it, there is strong anti-freedom camping feeling in popular places.

If you wish to enjoy this very cheap and enjoyable form of camping Please use a toilet! or a campground. There is no excuse for being a disgusting human being and leaving your shit for someone else to camp next to.

Thicket Burn

The Thicket burn campsite is a DOC run site found on the boundary of Fiordland National Park on the road to lake Hauroko (Lillburn valley road). It is a sunny spacious campsite with toilet, tables and fireplaces provided. A donation box allows campers to contribute to the upkeep of this campsite. A lovely picturesque location only a short drive from the stunning lake Hauroko this campsite is very busy during the summer.


Clifden Swing Bridge


Maintained by the Southland District Council there is loads of space for vans and a small grassy clearing for tents. Situated beside the Waiau river and the historic swingbridge this is a popular scenic stop. During peak tourist season a food caravan operates here during the day as well as Jetboat rides.


The Cwtch

Centrally located close to the shops in Tuatapere this is a private car park that offers free van parking for self- contained vehicles. Limited to six vehicles you are asked to check in at the Cwtch Gallery and have a look at the unique art while there. This parking space is under video surveillance at all times and offers a safe urban location.  Backpacker type accommodation is also available at The CWTCH which by the way is a Welsh word usually used to invoke the feeling of a hug. The Cwtch is also the home of the author and is a great place to visit for all the wilderness information you need.


Lake Monowai

Picnic tables and sheltered camping spots are available at the road end at lake Monowai. A pretty spot under the beech trees with walking options for those with the time and inclination.

There are toilets provided.


Monkey Island


A well-used and popular free campsite managed by the Southland District Council this campsite is down by the beach behind a dune just south of Orepuki. Monkey Island is the name given to a rock that juts out of the sea that was used by sailors to winch boats on shore for repairs. It is accessible at low tide.

Toilets are provided.


Lake Hauroko

Camping is possible at two locations at Lake Hauroko. About half a kilometre before the end of the road there is a small loop road that leads to stone picnic tables and secluded camping in the trees about twenty meters from the lake shore.

Otherwise, you can camp at the car park at the road end. Toilets are available at the road end but please camp away from the access to the boat ramp as the limited area is needed by those towing trailers. The sandflies at the car park are legendary predators which are why most people camp out at the thicket burn site.



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