Waikawa Recreation Reserve

Waikawa Recreation Reserve

Overnight Campervan Parking


39 Rankers Reviews

6 Face-to-Face

18 Owaka

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Over looking the estuary
Toilets up the road


Waikawa Recreation Reserve is A-OK for overnight free-camping

Self-contained campers are welcome to overnight at the Recreation Reserve in Waikawa township.

Bordering the Catlins and close to Curio Bay, Waikawa also boasts a popular fish and chip (chup) wagon. Nice!
Standard camping etiquette applies: clean up after yourself, respect thy neighbour and other users of the area, and protect the environment around you. And enjoy!

There are primo public toilets about 200m away from the campsite - keep it real.

Overnight camping permitted only in any 30 day period.

Must be self-contained.

This is a council designated campsite.



Feature Value Info


Southland District Council

Local government organisation


South IslandSouthlandOwaka


  • Freedom Camping
  • Free


Showing 13 reviews of 39.

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Barb Winter 's avatar

Barb Winter

Ranking: 10/10

This is a good spot. Had it all to ourselves. A must is the George Atkin Bush walk that starts just down at waters edge. Short walk filled with bird sounds and native Bush. Toilets are clean.

Reviewed about 1 year ago

Pablo Boris's avatar

Pablo Boris

Ranking: 7/10

Nice place in Waikawa, near the museum and the harbour, nice views! Bathrooms and rubbish bins, a little bit muddy if its raining.
Jan 2021, cold and no sandflies.
Sandflies level: 2

Reviewed over 1 year ago

Aaron's avatar


Ranking: 7/10

Quiet spot in a carpark next to a small field and close to the water. Flush toilets nearby, and a nice nature walk. Enough space for about 20 vehicles

Reviewed over 1 year ago

Jo's avatar


Ranking: 8/10

Site has moved and is no longer on the grass overlooking the water. My guess is that it became too muddy. Now it is in the car park behind the loos. Not far from the water, but not the nice view the pictures portray.
Level spot and pretty big site, enough space for many vehicles to fit comfortably. Toilets at the site too.

Reviewed over 1 year ago

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Aniek's avatar


Ranking: 7/10

Ok, field with opportunities to park. Tricky to find a flat spot. It got very crowded. Good location though and a nice view.

Reviewed over 2 years ago

Cor Dekker's avatar

Cor Dekker

Ranking: 8/10

Great place but a bit muddy. Very clean toilets nearby. A nice museum across the street!

Reviewed over 2 years ago

Georgia's avatar


Ranking: 9/10

Great spot in the Catlins! We had the most amazing sunrise there, beautiful pink skies. Toilets are great.

Reviewed over 3 years ago

WideEyedWanderer's avatar


Ranking: 9/10

Cozy area beside the bay tucked up against the forest. Fairly flat with a few mud puddles. 20 vans by the end made a full house, some lined up along the entrance road. Everyone was respectful but we were all parked close enough to hear several conversations. Nice flush toilets and potable water (rainwater) available behind the hall. Highly recommend exploring the forest path that starts just behind the fence separating the parking area from the field, there are informational signs about various native tree species and the short loop (if you take your first left after a bit) is very nice to stretch your legs after a day of driving. The bay is mostly mud at low tide but fills up nicely at high tide. Not many options for food or fuel nearby so take care of that on your way over (we recommend The Whistling Frog up by McLean Falls). The spot can get windy, which you should hope for because otherwise the sandflies are unbearable.

Reviewed over 3 years ago

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Sophie Skinner's avatar

Sophie Skinner

United Kingdom

Ranking: 8/10

Ideal free spot before/after visiting Curio Bay. Toilets are a 1min walk back to the road, site small ish and grassy. Flat enough. What you’d expect for a free site.

Reviewed almost 4 years ago

Mischa's avatar


Ranking: 8/10

This was beautiful but a bit crowded...it wasn’t our favorite but it was quiet.

Reviewed almost 4 years ago

Claudia's avatar


Ranking: 10/10

Lovely little spot! Public toilets very clean. Beautiful view. Very cute little town.

Reviewed almost 4 years ago

Rachel's avatar


Ranking: 10/10

Great site overlooking Porpoise Bay. A short drive round from Curio Bay, where freedom camping is prohibited.
There is some hard road, but otherwise muddy grass; no problem as we were the only van.
Rubbish can be left here.

Reviewed about 4 years ago

Benn's avatar


Ranking: 7/10

Nice free camp site. Toilets up near road 5 minutes walk. Site is grass so be careful not to get stuck, especially if it rains. It did get very gusty during the night. And the rain was horizontal. Make sure you batten down the hatches.

Reviewed over 4 years ago