This bylaw controls freedom camping in certain areas owned or managed by the Council, in order to protect these areas, including protecting access to the areas and the health and safety of people using them.

Freedom Camping Bylaw 2015 with maps and descriptions [PDF 13MB]

Pursuant to the powers vested in it by the Freedom Camping Act 2011, the Christchurch City Council makes this Bylaw.

The following note is explanatory and is not part of the Bylaw: This Bylaw incorporates amendments approved by the Council on 2 November 2016, which came into force on 1 December 2016. The amendments include a ban on non-self-contained freedom camping in all local-authority areas throughout the district, and five new areas where there is a ban on all freedom camping: Lower Styx River car park, Windsport Park car park, Addington Reserve car park, French Farm foreshore and Wainui foreshore.

Compliance with this Bylaw does not remove the need to comply with all applicable Acts, regulations, bylaws, and rules of law. This includes complying with any parking or other traffic restrictions in any area, not littering, not lighting fires in breach of any fire ban, not making excessive noise, no camping in parks and reserves, and complying with the directions of enforcement officers.

1. Short title

This Bylaw may be cited as the Christchurch City Council Freedom Camping Bylaw 2015.


2. Commencement

This Bylaw comes into force on 1 December 2016.


3. Purpose

The purpose of this Bylaw is to control freedom camping in the district in order to:

a. protect local authority areas;

b. protect the health and safety of people who may visit local authority areas;

c. protect access to local authority areas.


4. Interpretation

In this Bylaw, unless the context otherwise requires:

Act means the Freedom Camping Act 2011.

Certified self-contained vehicle means a vehicle designed and built for the purpose of camping which has the capability of meeting the ablutionary and sanitary needs of occupants of that vehicle for a minimum of three days without requiring any external services or discharging any waste and complies with New Zealand Standard 5465:2001, as evidenced by the display of a current self-containment warrant issued under New Zealand Standard Self Containment of Motor Caravans and Caravans, NZS 5465:2001.

Council means the Christchurch City Council

District means the district of the Council.

The following terms have the same definitions as in the Act:

Freedom camp:
(1) In this Act, freedom camp means to camp (other than at a camping ground) within 200m of a motor vehicle accessible area or the mean low-water springs line of any sea or harbour, or on or within 200m of a formed road or a Great Walks Track, using 1 or more of the following:

  1. a tent or other temporary structure:
  2. a caravan:
  3. a car, campervan, housetruck, or other motor vehicle.

(2) In this Act, freedom camping does not include the following activities:

  1. temporary and short-term parking of a motor vehicle:
  2. recreational activities commonly known as day-trip excursions:
  3. resting or sleeping at the roadside in a caravan or motor vehicle to avoid driver fatigue.

(3) In subsection (1):
Camping ground means:

  1. a camping ground that is the subject of a current certificate of registration under the Camping-Grounds Regulations 1985; and
  2. any site at which a fee is payable for camping at the site

Great Walks Track means:

  1. a track specified in Schedule 1 (of the Act); and
  2. any other track specified by Order in Council made under section 44 (of the Act) as a Great Walks Track.

Local authority area:

In this Act, local authority area:

  1. means an area of land:
    1. that is within the district or region of a local authority; and
    2. that is controlled or managed by the local authority under any enactment; and
  2. includes any part of an area of land referred to in paragraph (a); but
  3. does not include an area of land referred to in paragraph (a) or (b) that is permanently covered by water.

Waste receptacle: means a receptacle or facility that is provided by the Council for the purposes of disposing of waste (for example, a rubbish bin, public toilet, or bulk waste disposal unit).


5. Local authority areas where freedom camping permitted

Freedom camping is permitted in any local-authority area within the district unless it is prohibited or restricted:

  1. by this Bylaw; or
  2. under any other enactment or bylaw.

6. Prohibited areas

  1. A person must not freedom camp in any local-authority area in the district in any tent, temporary structure, or in any vehicle that is not a certified self-contained vehicle.
  2. A person must not freedom camp in a certified self-contained vehicle in any area marked red on any map in the Schedule.

7. Freedom camping in certified self contained vehicles

  1. In any area marked orange on any map in the Schedule, freedom camping is allowed subject to the following restrictions: 
    1. The freedom camping must only take place in a certified self-contained vehicle; and 
    2. The maximum period of stay in any location within an orange area is 2 nights within a 30-day period. 
  2. In clause 7(1)(b) location means the land within 500m of the place where the certified self-contained vehicle is situated for the purpose of freedom camping.

8. [Clause 8 of the Bylaw was revoked by an amendment to the Bylaw that came into force on 1 December 2016.]


9. Prior permission from Council

  1. The Chief Executive of the Council may waive or modify the freedom camping restrictions in clauses 6 and 7 of this Bylaw. Permission may be granted by the Chief Executive with or without conditions. 
  2. Application for permission must be made:
    1. in writing;
    2. provide sufficient detail about the proposed camping including information about how the applicant will manage all human and other waste generated while freedom camping; and
    3. be made at least 20 working days in advance of the date planned for freedom camping in the area where the prohibition or restrictions apply.

10. Council may temporarily close an area to freedom camping

  1. The Chief Executive of the Council may temporarily close or restrict freedom camping in any area or part of any area where the closure or restriction is considered necessary to:
    1. prevent damage to the local authority area or facilities in the area; or
    2. allow maintenance to the local authority area or facilities; or
    3. protect the safety of persons or property; or
    4. provide for better public access, including in circumstances where events are planned for that area.
  2. Notice will be given of any temporary closure or restriction, and the removal of any closure or restriction, in any manner the Chief Executive considers is appropriate to the reason for the closure or restriction. Prior notice of any temporary closure or restriction will be given where possible.

The following note is explanatory and is not part of the Bylaw: Notice given by the Council may include any of the following: a sign erected in the area; and/or advertising on the Council's website or on the radio; and/or a public notice in the paper.


11. Effects of this Bylaw on other Bylaws and Enactments

  1. [Sub-clause 1 was revoked by an amendment to the Bylaw that came into force on 1 December 2016.]
  2. Providing for restricted freedom camping in clause 7 of this Bylaw also provides for the parking of any vehicle being used for freedom camping in any area identified in clause 7, but does not affect any time, vehicle class or other restrictions that apply to the parking of that vehicle, made under any other bylaw or enactment.

The following note is explanatory and is not part of the Bylaw: This clause is to make it clear that approval of freedom camping under this Bylaw also satisfies any requirement for approval under another bylaw or enactment. For example:
The Council designates parking areas under the Traffic and Parking Bylaw and Council approval is needed to make changes; approving the same area for freedom camping under this bylaw also provides any Traffic and Parking Bylaw approval, if required (but the freedom camping must still comply with any parking time limits, etc. applicable to the area).


12. Christchurch City General Bylaw

The provisions of the Christchurch City General Bylaw 2008 (as amended from time to time) are implied into and form part of this Bylaw.


13. Offence and penalty

  1. As specified by section 20(1) of the Act, every person commits an offence who:
    1. freedom camps in a local authority area in breach of any prohibitions or restriction in this Bylaw that applies to the area; or
    2. makes preparations to freedom camp in a local authority area in breach of any prohibition or restriction in this Bylaw that applies to the area
  2. As specified by section 23(1) of the Act, every person who commits an offence set out in clause 12 (1) is liable to an infringement fee (fine) of $200.

The following note is explanatory and is not part of the Bylaw: Section 20 of the Act provides for the above offences and also for other offences, such as not properly disposing of waste into a waste receptacle, damaging or interfering with the flora and fauna in an area, and obstructing or threatening an enforcement officer. 

Section 22 of the Act sets out defences to a freedom camping offence, The defences include that an offence was committed due to an action or event beyond the control of the defendant that could not reasonably have been foreseen, or the act was necessary to protect life or health, prevent injury or serious damage to property. Council officers use their discretion when investigating freedom camping complaints, which will include consideration of any defences that may be available to a person.

The initial resolution to make this Bylaw was passed by the Christchurch City Council at a meeting of the Council on the 13th day of August 2015 and was confirmed, following consideration of submissions received during a special consultative procedure by a resolution at a subsequent meeting of the Council on the 26th day of November 2015.