Waikawa Recreation Reserve

Waikawa Recreation Reserve

Overnight Campervan Parking


35 Rankers Reviews

6 Face-to-Face

17 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


South IslandSouthlandOwaka


  • Freedom Camping
  • Free


Showing 13 reviews of 35.

Get the best out of it. Here's how…

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 11 months 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 about 1 year 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 1 year 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 almost 2 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 about 2 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 about 2 years ago

Claudia's avatar


Ranking: 10/10

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

Reviewed about 2 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 over 2 years ago

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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 2 years ago

Michael McMahon's avatar

Michael McMahon

United States

Ranking: 6/10

Came here because the last place was too windy. That was a mistake. The wind picked up at sunset and howled all night. It was not a restful night. The site is grass and mud but mostly mud in the rain. There is a slight pitch to most of the spots down to the water. The view is nice. The bathrooms were ok but not great. I'd pass on this if the weather is iffy.

Reviewed over 2 years ago

Jill Grimwood's avatar

Jill Grimwood

Ranking: 9/10

Nice location with great views, and close to Curio Bay, tricky to find a flat site to park. Nice walk through the forest nearby.

Reviewed over 2 years ago

Dana Nunes's avatar

Dana Nunes

Ranking: 8/10

Hey! Buy a small basin to wash your dishes ! Stop doing dishes in bathroom sinks! Aside from using the handicapped toilets for your dishwashing, you leave food bits in the sinks for others to deal with. It’s not all about you!

Reviewed over 2 years ago

UK 50-something couple 's avatar

UK 50-something couple

Ranking: 8/10

Great little site - perfectly adequate toilets, and a nice view over the adjacent inlet. Note that the permitted camping area is now only the part by the water, not the large adjacent field. There were probably about 20 vans by the end, so it got a bit crowded - don’t leave it too late if you want a decent outlook. Great fish and chip van at the end of the road.

Reviewed almost 3 years ago