Hipapatua / Reid's Farm Recreation...

Hipapatua / Reid's Farm Recreation Reserve Free Campsite




217 Rankers Reviews

130 Face-to-Face

300 Basic Camping

43 Taupo


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Photo taken from a campsite
Plenty of nooks and crannies.
New toilets


Free Campsite on the Waikato River just out of Taupo.

UPDATE March 20, 2020: To minimise the risks of COVID-19 Council-owned/managed freedom camping areas at Hipapatua / Reid’s Farm Recreation Reserve, Whakamaru Domain and Mangakino Recreation Reserve have been closed until further notice, with freedom campers encouraged to head to a local camping ground instead. More info and updates available here – www.taupo.govt.nz/covid-19

Please note: Hipapatua / Reid's Farm Recreation Reserve is closed to campers between May 1 and October 1 for site maintenance, in line with its reserve management plan.

Free camping is permitted on this recreation reserve. All campers, including those in certified self-contained vehicles, can stay for a maximum of three nights and/or four days in any 14 night period before they need to move on.

This campsite is close to town, and can be a popular party venue, especially on New Year's Eve. It's used a lot by travellers and sometimes by school groups. It can be a bit boggy after lots of rain. Quite a few sandflys as it is right on the river.

There is a permanent fire ban on this campsite (NO FIRES), and a complete liquor ban between noon on 27 December and 7am on 4 January.

This is a very popular spot for people learning how to white water kayak, and is the end point for guided kayak tours on the Waikato River.

Facilities are basic - the only water supply is the Waikato River, so we suggest that all drinking water is boiled first. There are no showers or cooking facilities.

Campers must take all their rubbish with them as a 'pack it in, pack it out' arrangement is in place to help protect the land and river. Campers should take their rubbish to the nearest refuse location - find out more about refuse locations and prices at www.taupo.govt.nz/rubbish.

Three older toilets have been removed and replaced with a lovely new triple unit, one cubicle of which has disability access. Two other toilets have also been refurbished making the whole experience much more pleasant. During busy periods, there can be queues for the best toilets so it pays to get up early.


Feature Value Info


North IslandTaupo RegionTaupo


  • Basic Camping
  • Free

Operating Season And Hours

UPDATE March 20, 2020: Council-owned/managed freedom camping areas at Hipapatua / Reid’s Farm Recreation Reserve, Whakamaru Domain and Mangakino Recreation Reserve have been closed until further notice, with freedom campers encouraged to head to a local camping ground instead.




Showing 13 reviews of 212.

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Sue4's avatar


Ranking: 7/10

Sign says camping ground is closed 😞 but a free camping area put up a little further in the reserve. The land is not even and hard access for big vehicles, need to be careful. But was quiet and peaceful. Lots of other respectful campers. Feels safe.

Reviewed 19 days ago

Felix's avatar


Ranking: 8/10

Great spot! Section A closed due to maintenance but section B is open! Plenty of room, quiet and a compost toilet available. Don’t forget your toilet paper

Reviewed about 1 month ago

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Jacob's avatar


Ranking: 1/10

Closed for maintenance

Reviewed 3 months ago

Kate's avatar


Ranking: 6/10

Originally parked up at Reid’s farm with the nice painted public toilets and view of the lake. All campers were asked to move to Hipapatua reserve 100m down the road. This was due to restrictions from covid that hadn’t been lifted even in level 1. This new area had a disgusting long drop toilet with poo everywhere. The parking space was just an uneven patch of grass. Honestly very disappointing but if the original place we parked in was open it would be beautiful.

Reviewed 4 months ago

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Emily's avatar


Ranking: 9/10

The place was great ! Such a great spot by the river. So many spots to park, I’d say it got full around 7 but you could easily squish in more. Waikato River was only 200m away, such a nice swim, make sure you don’t float away as the current is pretty fast. There are about 4 portaloos on site and toilet blocks 150m away. All around pretty good for a free camping site :)

Reviewed 8 months ago

Ali's avatar


Ranking: 9/10

Fell in love with Bianca from Cologne, but forgot to ask her number or other info :(
Wonderful spot by the way! Very peaceful and even though a bit crowded, there was a good atmosphere.

Reviewed 9 months ago

Moritz's avatar


Ranking: 8/10

Stopped by this free campsite during my cycling journey from Auckland to Wellington. It's a nice place close to the river which even has WiFi (not free though). Lots of other campers and van travellers, so not the quietest of places. Toilets are alright and there's even a sink for dishwashing. Overall great for a cheap stop!

Reviewed 9 months ago

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Scott Peaker's avatar

Scott Peaker

United Kingdom

Ranking: 4/10

Good spot close to the river and within walking distance of town.
However, we arrived at 5pm and the camp was already full so were lucky to find a space.

People continued to arrive until about 2 am and noisily setup camp right next to us and other campers.
One car even parked about 30cm from our van and banged the side of it with their car door.

Way too over crowded, with only a few Porto toilets which as you can expect with about 300 people using are not great..
Gates should be shut at 9pm to stop influx of people arriving throughout night.
Ok for a free spot but don't expect to get much sleep !

Reviewed 9 months ago

Kate's avatar


Ranking: 8/10

Very spacious with lots of area for overnight camping. It is a pity you can’t overnight closer to the river but the camping area is still only a very short walk.

The toilets are long drops. They were fine; I didn’t think any were particularly dirty and they all had toilet paper.

The campsite has one tap with one basin for dishwashing purposes, and the water from the river isn’t drinkable. Recommend bringing plenty of fresh water although this is quite close to Taupo.

All round it is a beautiful area to stay and swim. We love it here.

Reviewed 9 months ago

Gayle's avatar


Ranking: 6/10

The place was fully packed with campers.
Heared growling noise at night. May be wild animals are living in the bush. Some unruly people pointed torch light to the tents sneaking to see what's going on. Which is really a shame.

Reviewed 10 months ago

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Jess's avatar


Ranking: 6/10

A good location for Huka Falls (either a 5min drive or 20min walk) the actual camping area has four portatoilets, two at either end, unfortunately during my stay two at one end we’re completely blocked and in need of a clean. The nice toilets shown in the pictures are long drop toilets and located a short walk from the camp ground (in the day parking section), along with the sink for washing your dishes. I have camped here twice, the first time there was plenty of space and people could spread out, however the second time was closer to Christmas and was very busy, by the time I woke up in the morning I was surrounded on all sides by other vehicles, so I recommend you get there early-ish during peak travel times. Overall it is a good place to go for Huka falls and it is free.

Reviewed 10 months ago

Lua's avatar


Ranking: 9/10

Beautiful spot with plenty of space, close to Taupo and also to Huka Falls. Facilities were OK.

Reviewed 11 months ago

Devin's avatar


Ranking: 6/10

Fills up fast. Ended up arriving late afternoon and got a spot that was a bit up the hill on uneven ground, but at least we got a spot. The other campers in the flatter area take up a lot of space, perhaps more than they needed. I didn't get the chance to use the toilets pictured here as they are in the recreational area that is closed to vehicles after 8 or so, but still accessible by foot. There were very dirty portapotties as well that seemed like they may not be for the campers, but for workers as the site was under some repair or expansion. The place is still decent in general due to its free status and proximity to attractions along highway 5, just dirtier and more used than other free campsites I stayed at. There's a nice view of the river from this spot too.

Reviewed 11 months ago