Freedom Camping in Queenstown (Lake Hayes)
Queenstown is arguably the jewel in the crown of the south island. Fishing, skiing, partying, music festivals, shopping, paragliding, jet boating, bungy jumping..You name it, you can do it in Queenstown. In previous years, it was seasonal and known mainly as a winter destination however now with the wide range of summer activities it's busy year round. If you walk through the town at 6pm on any given day, there's a certain 'calm before the storm' atmosphere that preludes the night life. The awesome thing is that with so many accommodation options from backpackers to five star hotels, Queenstown is fit for any budget. Queenstown is probably one of the most sensitive areas toward freedom camping, and where a lot of the opposition started. If you're travelling in a non self-contained campervan, then you're not going to have much luck around here finding free campsites unfortunately. There are some awesome DOC campsites like 12 mile delta which will cost only $10 per person per night and is only 11kms out of Queenstown. My advice is if you're in a non self contained campervan, you want to stay here. If you're fortunate enough to have a self contained campervan, then you' re in luck. While you won't be able to stay right in Queenstown, you have a couple of free options such as Lake Hayes (recommended by the council), Frankton Rotary plus a bunch of DOC designated free campsites as you drive toward Glenorchy (download CamperMate to see all of them). The Lake Hayes freedom camping area is at the north end of the lake. While it's a massive reserve, there is only a small area where you are allowed to park. As you drive in, you'll see the signs on the left, where you are allowed to park between. As at the time of writing, you can stay here for a maximum of two nights (self contained only), however download the app to get the absolute latest information. In terms of facilities, Lake Hayes also has a nice and clean set of toilets. If it's summer, you might like to take a dip in the lake, which is perfectly safe for swimming. In terms of controls, I've heard of a number of people getting $200 instant fines, and these guys won't let you off no matter what tricks you pull! So if you're planning on staying at Lake Hayes, make sure you are self contained, stay between the signs and stay a maximum of two nights. Enjoy!