Clutha Camping

Clutha’s rich in natural and scenic landscapes, coastlines and wide-open spaces are well-suited to campers. Having guidelines for campers allows this form of tourism and recreation to continue, and provides some protection to our community’s natural environment, by minimising littering and dumping of toilet wastes.

Where can you camp in Clutha?

There are some great places to stay in Clutha and we welcome responsible campers who are prepared to look after our unique natural environment and follow some simple rules. Camping is permitted in any designated camping ground for all types of camping in tents, campervans, sleeper vans and vehicles. If your campervan is fully self-contained (with a toilet, wastewater and rubbish facilities on-board) then you may camp overnight for free on most land administered by Council away from the town centres and residential areas. Some public land is excluded however. Please observe all no camping signs. If you do not have a fully self-contained campervan then please stay at a camping ground.

The Catlins is a popular and frequently visited area of Clutha. Its unique and fragile coastlines and ecosystem are home to endangered wildlife and bird species. Please camp only in permitted areas. There are three Department of Conservation (DOC) camping grounds in Clutha (Tawanui, Purakaunui Bay, and Papatowai), all of which are located in The Catlins and are relatively cheap to stay at. These are all standard campsites with a limited range of facilities and services, including toilets, water supply and vehicle access.

Freedom Camping

Why we need rules around freedom camping. These rules are designed to assist with the protection of our natural environment and the sustainability of this tourism activity for years to come. Further general information about freedom camping is available on

  • If freedom camping, we ask that you please:
  • Stay away from the town centres, residential areas and prohibited camping areas.
  • Stay a maximum of three nights in any four-week period at any one single location.
  • Dispose of your wastewater at one of the waste disposal dump stations.
  • Put your rubbish in bins provided within the town centres or at the Council transfer stations.
  • Do not light any fires.
  • Leave the area as you found it, free of litter and damage.
  • Comply with any request to move on by an Authorised Officer.
  • Please note that breaching any of these rules can result in an instant fine or prosecution. Instant fines start from $500.