Freedom. Freedoom.. Freedooom… Oh Freedom Camping is one of the best ways to explore New Zealand’s South Island. The landscapes of New Zealand’s South Island are simply stunning. The best way to soak in its natural beauty is not by staying in a hotel, but finding a spot to camp right in nature.  Our journey from Wanaka to Bruce Bay along New Zealand’s Wild West Coast was our first experience with finding a true spot to freedom camp (i.e. not staying at a D.O.C. campsite, but discovering your own secret spot within a sanctioned freedom camping zone).

Freedom Camping Near Queenstown

We had just completed a magical Two Day Trip to Mystical Milford Sound.  We stopped to camp just outside of Queenstown at Shotover River, a freedom camping site for self-contained vehicles, after the 5 hour drive out.


After sleeping in and enjoying a hot breakfast prepared in our ActionPod we began our journey to New Zealand’s WIld West Coast, where we aimed to explore the sites of Mount Aspiring National Park.  

Our first stop was Wanaka, where we planned to visit The Lone Tree of Lake Wanaka.  The Lone Tree is one of the most photographed trees in New Zealand, thus it deserves our respect so we can preserve it for generations to come.  Malama ka `aina (respect the land). We took a few selfies, filled our memory cards with postcard worthy shots, then headed off to to explore the sites of Mount Aspiring National Park.

Exploring Mount Aspiring National Park

One of our most favorite stops was Thunder Creek Falls (Tundah Creek in pidgin).   It’s a short hike off the main highway and offers thunderous views of the waterfall.

Don’t forget to stop at Fantail Falls and try your hand at rock stacking.
One of the coolest things about freedom camping is that your kitchen travels with you allowing you to pull over anywhere to prepare a hot meal.  Thus, we made a point to always find someplace scenic to picnic or freedom camp. Our theme for this trip was water.
The drive from Wanaka through Mount Aspiring National Park to the West coast took around 4 hours.  Along the way we passed by snow capped mountains, dusty dunes, and beautiful beaches like Bruce Bay.

Finding the Perfect Place to Freedom Camp

After a fun-filled day of soaking in the sites, it was time to find a place to camp.  Finding the perfect spot to freedom camp can be a little tricky as you can’t just stop on the side of the road.  You have to look for little side roads. After some trial and error we were able to find our diamond in the rough–a romantic spot right next to a secluded stream.

If you love the outdoors, being close to nature, and having the flexibility to eat and sleep just about anywhere, then I would highly recommend freedom camping. Try it out. Maybe you’ll find your very own hidden gem.