Camping, Propane (LPG) Availability and Fuel Prices in

Australia and New Zealand

Updated June 2017


General information:  

Overnight Locations:

Their are many camping options available to you in both Australia and New Zealand.  Everything from full on holiday park resorts to national and regional parks to recognized free camping spots available in book form or via apps on your phone or tablet to park anywhere places you find yourself.  Both Australia and New Zealand have different resources available to you for locating recognized camping locations so we will cover each of them individually below.  We will list the locations we have used below.  Our listings are shown in alphabetical order by the name of the nearest town, while the numbers in parentheses indicate the (month/year) we were there. 

GPS Coordinates:  We show coordinates for each overnight spot we stayed at and also include elevation (in meters) for the locations where we think that may be a consideration to other travelers.    

Propane (LPG): 

RVs like our Tiger with a chassis mounted propane tank, in some countries need to go to a different location than those with removable tanks that sometimes can be refilled but also can be exchanged.  In some regions one type of tank may be easier to fill than the other while in other areas the reverse may be true.  In New Zealand, with it’s thousands of rental camper vans in addition to many locally owned motorhomes and caravans, LPG is readily available at many, perhaps as many half, of the stations that carry petrol and diesel fuel.  Of those stations with LPG, some will only be able to fill replaceable tanks, but many will have the 1 3/4” Acme thread fitting needed for fixed tanks.  We had no trouble locating LPG for the rental van we were using in New Zealand, but we would also have had no difficulty getting LPG for the Tiger if we had had it with us.  Australia, if anything, will prove to be even easier to locate propane.  As of this writing, we’ve only been here a few days, but it seems like most fuel stations also have LPG, many of them with 1 3/4” Acme fill hoses readily available.

Fuel Prices:

These prices give the range of what we paid in each country.  We have a diesel engine; the diesel prices are actual.  We have included the estimated prices for regular unleaded gasoline, called petrol here.  All fuel prices are shown with both the actual local cost and with that cost converted into US gallons and US Dollars at the time of our visit.

US Credit Cards in New Zealand: (once again we will add Australia once we arrive there)

Credit cards in NZ have an embedded chip and use a PIN for security.  These cards do not require a signature.  While US cards are beginning to move to chip technology, many continue to be based on a magnetic strip.  Either way, most US cards still require a signature rather than a PIN.  Some folks have located credit unions in the US that will issue a chip and PIN based card and we know they are using them in Europe.  Here, we’ve had no trouble using our chip and signature cards at any location with an attendent/cashier and magnetic strip cards would work as well.  Our cards will not work at an unmanned 24/7 fuel station, but then our Debit card with PIN doesn’t work at these stations either so we cannot say whether a US issued chip and PIN card would work.  


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New Zealand: 

Exchange rate:  During our visit in April/May 2017, the New Zealand Dollar was at a rate of about $1.44 to one US Dollar ($1NZ = $0.68US).  This is a very favorable rate for us as in recent years the rate had been more like $1.18 NZ to $1.00 US ($1NZ = $0.85US).  At the current rate of exchange we did not find New Zealand to be particularly expensive, but as always we must say that we travel in a rather basic manner.  We seldom stay in campgrounds, don’t take tours or flights to the glaciers, eat out in restaurants often, etc.  The posted prices for all of these things are high and have risen considerably over the past five years as tourism of all types has increased dramatically in New Zealand.  It is safe to say that NZ can be an expensive travel destination depending on what you choose to do and what your native currency exchange is at the time of your visit.  

Overnight parking regulations:  Freedom camping, as it is referred to here, is allowed in New Zealand, but it is controlled and the controls have tightened over recent years due to a great increase in tourism using rental vans.  We are traveling here very much in the shoulder season of April and May, which is autumn in the southern hemisphere.  Still, when we have visited the most popular spots we have noticed the impact  caused by the number of rental vans; we can only imagine how busy it must be in the summer months of December to February.  Locating approved free overnight spots is not difficult using an app for your phone or tablet.  We used one from Rankers (www.rankers.co.nz), a company that is a great source of information on everything to do with camper van travel in NZ; from choosing your rental company to organizing your travel.  Their app also lists dump stations, regular camp sites and many other items that will be useful to you.  We recommend them highly.

DOC (Department of Conservation) operates New Zealand’s national parks, public lands and campgrounds.  Basic DOC sites are sometimes free, but camping rates for sites with fees have increased dramatically within the past few years.  A weekly pass is available from Rankers that will save money if you plan to use DOC campgrounds frequently.  Also, if you plan to spend more time in NZ than we did, joining the Camping Club (nzcma.org.nz) may make sense and they have longer term DOC passes available.

Fuel:  Fuel prices vary only somewhat on South Island, but for some reason much more on North Island.  Prices are generally posted clearly other than at unmanned 24/7 stations.  Diesel prices are significantly lower than Petrol, by around $.70NZ/liter, but this is somewhat misleading.  Local residents pay an annual fee when they register their Diesel vehicle while most, but not all, rental companies charge a Diesel Surcharge of $0.06NZ/kilometer for diesel powered vans, paid when you return the rental at the end of your visit. This fee makes up most of the difference in the lower cost of Diesel vs Petrol, but not all.  During our stay we paid between $1.05NZ and $1.35NZ/liter of Diesel ($2.70US to $3.50US/gallon).  Supermarket chains provide either fuel discount coupons or use a shopping card plan to give you discounts for fuel each time you shop.  Mobil stations also give a discount for fuel purchases over $40NZ, so watch for those as well.

Propane:  LPG is readily available throughout New Zealand.  As noted above, whether you have a fixed tank or removable cylinders you will have no difficulty finding LPG, which is referred to as LPG on signage, but as gas in conversation.  LPG is sometimes charged by the Liter and sometimes by the Kilogram (one KG = almost two liters), but either way, the price reflects the different method of measurement.  It is rather expensive at between $4.50/$5.00 US per gallon after conversion.


Location, Type/Cost and Description

South Island


Charteris Bay  Overnight  $10pp/night  S43.65908  E172.70709

We ended up at Orton Bradley Park in this small corner of Lyttelton Harbor because we couldn’t find the designated free-camping spot at Governor’s Bay and were too tired to keep looking.  This is a private community park, quite lovely, with extensive grounds in a rural area, not far from Diamond Harbor.  Our site was without power, the serviced sites were $12pp/night.  The road follows the edge of the bay; we accessed by taking a “faster” route, thanks to our GPS, which took us over Dyer’s Pass, a huge mistake.  Much better to come through Lyttelton.  (4/17)

Cromwell area   Overnight   Free  S45.00779  E169.21411  

North of town approx. 2 miles on SH6, going up the west side of the lake, stop at Lowburn Harbor.  There is a large grassy area by the water.  Very pleasant; toilets, no dump.  Dump in tow at PB station.  Stayed again later in the month.  Quiet night.  (4/17)

Cust   Overnight  Free   S43.30172  E172.37010

We spent two nights at the Domain park in this small community west of Christchurch.  Very simple, but quiet and peaceful.  There is a children’s play area and open fields.  The only facilities were toilets.  It was great.  (4/17)

Dunedin area   Overnight & Dump  Free  S45.94826  E170.33516.  

Brighton Domain sports field.  Lots of parking areas around the field.  Toilets.  We parked right on the edge of the cliff over the ocean at Brighton Beach.  Max 2 days.  There is a dup across the way at Brighton Motor Camp (probably not free).  Took about 1/2 hour to get into Dunedin each day.  We also found a second dump (this one free) near Brighton at S45.93755  E170.35686  (4/17)

Dunedin   Day Parking   $5.00/all day/ free on Sundays  S45.87473  E170.50993.

We parked at the railway station two days running.  It is plenty close enough to walk into the center of town to  see the sights, and there is wifi in the railway cafe.  Use the lot at the east end of the station, as it has some larger spaces.  (4/17)

Fortrose   Overnight  Free  S46.58575  E168.80206

East of town take Boat Harbor Rd off the coastal scenic route and follow it to the cliffs next to the edge of a golf course.  Delightful and quiet; watch for muddy areas when rainy.  If you are approaching this site from Fortrose itself, take the road through the village and you will come to another site first, Morley Terrace.  It is more level and may suit you better, but we liked the cliff site a lot.  (4/17)

Franz Josef Glacier area  Overnight  $13pp/night  S43.29746  E170.22440

Lake Mapourika DOC Campground is a short distance north of the FJ Glacier.  As you enter, you can go right (to the MacDonald area), or to the left, to Otto’s Corner.  Go left.  It’s a small, delightful area right near the lake and is just great.  Flush toilets!  (4/17)

Glenhope area  Overnight  Free  S41.57676  E172.76953  Elevation 350 meters

The Clark Valley Recreation site on SH6 north of where SH63 turns east to Blenheim, and situated between Glenhope and Korere made a good overnight stop.  It has large open areas with lots of trees.  Somewhat close to the road; toilet.  (4/17)

Gore area  Overnight & Dump  $10.00 pp/night  S46.06322  E168.82722

Council Domain campground with power and facilities near Gore in the Hokonui Hills.  Lovely.  In nearby Croyden, turn in at the Croyden Motel/Lodge off SH94 and follow signage to Dolamore Park.  Signage not great, but visible.  Toilets, dump, showers.  As you leave, you will cross a little bridge, and if you angle off to the left, you will see the dump at the left end of the toilet block across the field.  (4/17)

Haast area  Overnight  $13 pp/night  S43.72168  E169.41121

Lake Parina DOC campground north of the town of Haast.  Right on the lake; quite charming.  Sandflies not bad.  Pit toilets.  (4/17)

Invercargill area   Overnight  Free  S46.28478  E168.08537

A bit north of Thornbury, about 30 km west from Invercargill off SH99 heading towards Riverton.  Grassy areas on both sides of the highway.  Signed as a picnic area; it is just after you cross the bridge.  Toilets and trash dumpster.  We came back for a second night.  (4/17)

Katike   Overnight  Free  S45.40017  E170.83946

Close to SH1 in a grove of trees right next to the beach, a short distance north of the village.  Going south, turn just after the bridge crossing the train tracks.  No services.  (4/17)

Lake Ellesmere  Overnight  Free  S43.79848  E172.36893

Lakeside Domain along one arm of the lake.  Short distance on gravel.  Water and toilets.  (4/17)

Lawrence   Overnight  Free  S45.87860  E169.68620

Gabriel’s Gully Rd comes out of the middle of this small town on SH90 and carries you out about 3.5 km to the Historic Preserve.  Take the small gravel road down to a small pond; lots of room, and lovely.  There are dump and fresh water in town.  Turn right where Gabriel’s Gully Rd joins SH90 and go a short distance; they are opposite the police station.  (4/17)

Nelson area  Overnight  Free  S41.18481  E173.48686

About 30 km east of Nelson on SH6 between Nelson and Rai Valley we spent the night at the Graham Stream Picnic area.  Possibly the nicest spot yet.  Large grassy area midst trees; quiet except some road traffic.  No facilities.  (5/17)

Picton  Overnight Street Parking       

We wandered until we found a street that was off the main thoroughfare but not in a residential neighborhood, and parked for the night.  There is a parking lot across from the ferry terminal, and we had been directed there, but it said no overnight camping.  Confused and very tired, we simply found a spot in town and stopped.  We were not disturbed during the night.  There is a designated Freedom Camping area about 8-10 km south of town, but it was already full; there is nothing closer.  (5/17)

Pleasant Point    Overnight  $12.00/person.  S44.26205  E171.14417

Pleasant Point Domain Tennis and Rugby Club.  Full services beside the field; pretty spot.  No dump.  Pay and get key ($20 deposit) at Pleasant Point Dairy in the village.  $9/person w/out power.  Very large and can handle lots of people.  (4/17)

Punakaiki Pancake Rocks   Overnight   Free  S42.10669  E171.33969

About 1km north of the Rocks visitor center there is a parking area called Pororari River Track Carpark; the village nearby is Punk.  Just a parking lot, with no services.  Somewhat buggy, even this far from the water, but it’s about to rain.  Quit a nice spot.  This is a DOC Freedom camping spot for self-contained vehicles only.   (4/17)

Queenstown area   Overnight Free  S44.99245  E168.43150

North of town, on SH 91 along Lake Wakatipu, we spent the night at the DOC free camp at 25 mile bridge.  No services.  Right on the water; delightful; some sand flies.  Room for several rigs.  (4/17

Richmond.  Dump and water  S41.32917  E173.19028

This is an excellent free public facility not far from Nelson with plenty of room to maneuver; right next to the bay.  There was one RV there which looked like it was staying the night; no adverse signage.  A great spot.  (5/17)

Takaka    Overnight  Free  S40.83151  E172.79253

Waitapu River Bridge overnight spot didn’t have much to offer, it’s just a gravel dump area near the river.  But it was quiet and there is a toilet.  It’s about 2-3 miles above the town of Takaka, on SH60 along the road to Collingwood.  Lots of room.  (5/17)

Te Anau area   Overnight $13pp/night  S44.89452  E168.07613

Cascade Creek DOC Campground along the road between Te Anau and Milford Sound.  Toilets; campfires permitted.  Large open field with plenty of room.  About 1/3 way to the Sound.  (4/17)

Te Anau area   Overnight  $13pp/night  S45.40942  E167.70702

Henry Creek DOC Campground.  First camping opportunity after leaving Te Anau headed for Mildred Sound.  Smallish but adequate; toilets only.  There are numerous DOC sites between Te Anau and Milford Sound.  (4/17)

Twizel area   Overnight  Free  S44.18330  E170.15369

North of Twizel, turning east on SH8, at the foot of Lake Pukaki, a little east of the Visitors Center, there is a large free camping area used by many  folks as it has a terrific view of the Southern Alps at Aoraki/ Mt Cook.  Delightful.  (4/17)

Winchester area   Overnight Free  S44.18237  E171.2749

Winchester Bridge Reserve.  Trash barrels and pit toilets.  Quiet despite being near the road.  (4/17)


North Island

Auckland Museum  Street Parking  S36.85975  E174.77524  

There is some motorhome-specified parking near the museum, but it was full.  We found street parking nearby; it varied between 2-3 hours free parking.  We moved to a second spot in order to have more time at the museum.  There is no adverse O/N parking signage, but very sloping.  (5/17)

Auckland area  Overnight   Free  S36.85963  E174.71599

While visiting the museum, we got permission to stay the night in the parking area at the MOTAT Aviation Collection.  Quiet during the night.  No services.  (5/17)

Auckland Area     LPG fill     at BP station on Cavendish    S36.99076  E174.86787

Cape Pelliser   Camping   Donation  S41.58939  E175.23303

short of Cape Palliser is the Ngawi-Pelliser Domain.  We were parked on the edge of the water, with a great view.  The fish and chips shack was close at hand but they were closed, probably because it was Monday.  Trash only; n other services.  We gave a $2.00 donation. (5/17)

Cape Reinga area  Overnight  Free  S34.94521  E173.18677

Lake Waiparara overnight spot along SH1 about 6-8 miles before reaching Cape Reinga.  Camping area is next to the lake; about 18km south of Pukenui.  Lovely spot; no services; one of the best yet.  (5/17)

Drury  Dump Station  S37.10238  E174.95287

If you are heading for the Auckland airport area from the south, this is an excellent place to dump your waste tank before turning in a rental vehicle.  Take the Drury exit off SH1 and go east to Norris Road, where you go right then almost immediately left onto Tui Street.  Go directly ahead to the yellowish building (Drury Hall).  No fresh water.  (5/17)

Gisborne Camping  Free  S38.66610  E178.02902

There is designated parking along the river marina.  A gorgeous, lovely, perfect spot.  Short walk into center of town.  Toilet block on site.  Room for about a dozen rigs.  (6/17)

Gulf Harbor  Overnight  Free  S36.62479  E174.78589

Take exit 398 off SH1 to avoid toll road ahead, then follow signage within Gulf Harbor to Whangaparoa and on to end of road.  There is a designated motorhome parking area, 2 night maximum.  Toilets and dump, but no water.  Excellent spot.  (5/17)

Hamilton area   Overnight  Free  S37.40621  E175.14792

Te Kauwhata Rugby Club field and large parking area with plenty of room.  Toilets and trash receptacles.  A little unkempt but serviceable and friendly.  Some 25 miles north of Hamilton on SH1; not far off the highway and into the village.  (5/17)

Kaikohe  Overnight  Free  S35.41067  E173.80382

Lindvart Park parking area, along edge of field in town of Kaikohe on SH12 about 10km west of where SH12 goes west off SH1 in Northland.  No services.  Dump station is at S35.41184  E173.80110; right on the road but hard to see due to lack of signage, it is a little further west on the same road, and across the street, just west of the Pioneer Village sign; has fresh water.  (5/17)

Masterton  Camping  Free  S40.95097  E175.67830

Lake Henley is on the east edge of town and there are two large parking areas; no adverse signage.  The town is along SH2.  Very nice area; quite popular with locals during the day.  Walks around the lake, etc.  Toilets over near the primary school.  Stayed 2 nights.  (5/17)

Matakohe   Overnight  Free S36.12952  E174.18480  

Asked and received permission to stay the night at the Kauri Museum; quite sloping, but manageable.  The Kauri Museum is excellent; along SH12.  (5/17)

Napier  Camping Free  S39.47813  E176.89592

Perfume Point parking area has 4 designated spots in its lot; this is towards the north end of town.  We chose to park in another spot in the lot.  At 10pm the police came by and said we needed to move, as there were no designated spots available.  He guided us over to a spot further south on the Marine Parade.  This lot had plenty of space, and a dump/water station on site.  It was at S39.50940  E176.91817.  It was a good spot; no problems.  6/17)

New Plymouth - Mt Taranaki area  Overnight  Free  S39.26980  E174.09645  Elevation 928 meters

The North Egmont Visitor Center allows overnight parking in the lot for the center.  There are toilets at the building, but not sure they are available overnight.  Terrific place to wake up on a clear morning, though cold due to elevation.  (5/17)

Otaki area  Overnight  Free  S40.72112  E175.24733

Waikawa DOC Campground.  Take Manakau Road North going east off SH1; this is a few miles north of Otaki.  Travel 2 miles in to reach a lovely forest park.  Toilets and cooking shelter near a pretty river.  Quiet.  (5/17)

Pukehina Beach  Camping  Free  S37.76035  E176.48405

Gorgeous spot.  Follow the road to the end, which is Dotterel Point.  Couldn’t be finer.  We stayed 2 nights.  Toilets on site.  About 6 spaces designated for motorhomes.  Fish and chips available at The Store, which is 4.8 km back along the road.  We left a chair in our spot to hold it, and nobody bothered us.  A great finish to our time here.  (6/17)

Te Kaha area   Camping  Free  S37.72765 E177.69470

The Maraetai Bay/Te Kaha Recreation Reserve a bit north of the town of Te Kaha is a nice little community park.  3 night maximum.  Toilets.  Pretty close to the road but very near the water.  Quiet night.  (6/17)  

Te Kiuti area  Overnight  Free  S38.35715  E175.19330

The Mangoakewa Reserve is south of town on SH30 maybe 8-10 miles, then left into a lovely gorge with stream and lake.  Gorgeous and quiet; a special space.  Tons of room; sites with grills, toilets, play area.  Little sun in winter, but still quite splendid.  (5/17)

Turangi  Overnight  Free S38.98686  E175.81651

Picnic area on north edge of town.  Large open space and plenty of trees; can get away from the road (SH1).  (5/17)

Waikane  Overnight  Free  S40.87488  E175.05078

Smallish city park along Park Avenue.  Nice area of town.  We couldn’t find the official site that is listed near here, but no one bothered us.  Lovely park with children’s play area.  (5/17)

Whangarei  Overnight  Free  S35.72633  E174.32890

Parking area alongside the Town Basin; quite lovely.  Only 8 designated spaces; if they are full, you can o/n in another space and then move to be properly parked as a space becomes available during the day (if staying).  No services, but can walk to everything in town.  Dump and water a mile or so away, with clear directions at entrance to the lot.  (5/17)

Whanganui  Overnight  Free  S39.93143  E175.04796

Parking lot for the RSA Center; donations accepted.  Apparently no time limit.  This is a unique and terrific spot in an excellent location mid-town.  There are two power plugs available in one corner of the lot.  Check in with the RSA office.  No other services.  Cafe on site; plenty of cafes nearby.  (5/17)  

Wellington area  Overnight  Free  S41.09769  E174.86861

This is a brilliant location.  North of Wellington in the town of Mana, is the Ngatitoa/Parameta Domain camping area, right along the water in a lovely community park area.  The train station is very close for getting into Wellington (maybe 30 miles away), and a supermarket just beyond it.  It is free and signed 3 nights only, but we were told no one would shove us off if we stayed longer.  No water or dump on site, but the nearby BP station has a dump, and there is potable water available behind the building across from the toilet block that you pass as you enter the camping area.  Just perfect.  We stayed 3 nights.  (5/17)


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