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Freedom Camping Bylaw - have your say

Do you have an opinion on freedom camping?

We’re looking for feedback on a proposed Freedom Camping Bylaw.

Matamata-Piako is one of New Zealand’s visitor hot spots. We’ve got lots of attractions to explore and host around 18,000 nights of freedom camping each year, but we currently don’t have a Freedom Camping Bylaw to identify areas which are not suitable for those visitors to park.

New Zealand’s freedom camping laws allow camping on all Council land and roads, unless the Council prohibits it through other methods (like a bylaw or Reserve Management Plan). So we’re proposing to put a new bylaw in place that strikes a balance between attracting and supporting tourism in our area, while protecting special places in our district.

This is your opportunity to have your say about the Freedom Camping Bylaw which proposes to:

  • Restrict freedom camping to people in self-contained motor vehicles (i.e. not tents or other temporary structures).
  • Identify areas where people CAN’T freedom camp (prohibited areas).
  • Identify areas where people MAY freedom camp (restricted areas), with a maximum number of self-contained vehicles that can stay in each location.
  • Set a maximum of four nights stay in any specific location within any one-month period.
  • Prevent freedom camping within 500m of a place you have previously camped within the last month.
  • Also, we would incorporate the NZ Self-containment Standard for Freedom Camping into the Bylaw.

In line with this, we are also proposing to make amendments to some of our Reserve Management Plans (RMPs). The following RMPs would be amended by adding the following statement to the Management Intent section of each RMP: “That freedom camping is permitted in self-contained vehicles in designated areas for a maximum of four consecutive nights.”

  • Hetana Street Reserve, Matamata (Passive RMP) 
  • Waitoa Railway Reserve, Waitoa (Passive RMP
  • Herries Memorial Park, Te Aroha (Active RMP)
  • Waihou Recreation Reserve, Waihou (Active RMP)

We propose to remove Te Aroha Domain from Appendix E of the Active RMP, so it is no longer noted as a location which may be appropriate for camping.

For more information, or to have your say, visit

Feedback opens on 18 September, and needs to be in by 18 October 2023