Lake Ruataniwha Reserve

Lake Ruataniwha Reserve

Overnight Campervan Parking


13 Rankers Reviews

1 Face-to-Face

15 Twizel

Online Maps

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The MacKenzie District Council has allowed freedom camping along the shores of Lake Ruataniwha.

However take note.......Camping is BANNED between December 24 and the second Monday in January.

Self-contained vehicles only.

3 nights consecutive maximum.

No camping within 20m of the lake foreshore.

Please respect these rules, or the locals will have no problems educating you about them. It's a beautiful place which has unfortunately been abused by previous campers, hence the rules. Enjoy.


Feature Value Info


Mackenzie District Council

Local government organisation


South IslandMount Cook - MacKenzieTwizel


  • Freedom Camping
  • Free


Get the best out of it. Here's how…

Valg's avatar


Ranking: 8/10

Just past the paid camp ground on the same side a beautiful grassy area over looking the length of Lake Ruataniwha and mountains behind. Paths down to the lake and cycle tracks into Twizel and along the canal behind the dam. Just have to be 10 for views. No facilities but that’s ok for us as self contained. Highly recommend.

Reviewed 6 months ago

Edward's avatar


Ranking: 8/10

Can be hard to find as the Google maps "freedom camping ground" is not marked properly (on this app it is)
Nice place to park up for the night with morning views over the lake

Reviewed almost 2 years ago

Felix's avatar


Ranking: 7/10

Nice place for one night. Just self contained vehicles, no facilities there but you’ll sleep in front of the lake:)

Reviewed almost 2 years ago

Diana's avatar


Ranking: 8/10

Fabulous wild spot, very popular with campers. No toilets, despite a sign encouraging visitors to use their on board toilet or the one provided. Self-contained vehicles only. Too many people are using any handy shrub or tree to defecate beside, leaving toilet paper strewn around - it is disgusting, and a chargeable offence. Visitors please respect our land

Reviewed over 2 years ago

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Liz Wade's avatar

Liz Wade

United Kingdom

Ranking: 8/10

Keep going on down the road past the campsite and other entrances to the reserve. There are several spots just before a turning on your right. Easy to find somewhere on the waters edge with a view of the lake. High spots for those with the vehicles that can get up to them. Use your own toilet and don’t leave mounds of toilet paper in the trees! And don’t park right on top of others when there’s plenty of space!

Reviewed over 2 years ago and experienced in January 2020

Libby's avatar


Ranking: 6/10

Nice spot for free. Toilets weren’t the best. Seems like a lot of families love this spot

Reviewed almost 3 years ago

Shannon's avatar


Ranking: 10/10

Beautiful spot. Can only stay in the small yellow area shown on the map which can still cater for 20 campers or so. We parked up on the edge overlooking the water and the mountains and were just blown away.
No facilities so must be self contained. Easy to get to, close to twizel. Did get very windy there when we stayed.

Reviewed almost 3 years ago

Kristyl's avatar


Ranking: 9/10

Excellent location and views. Bags of room ....the dogs loved it. Great spot. Drove from their to the base of Lake Ohau along the canal where fisherman were catching huge trout.

Reviewed about 3 years ago

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Jae-Marie Edwards's avatar

Jae-Marie Edwards


Ranking: 9/10

We have stayed here twice now during our two week camper van trip around the South Island. It’s a top spot for a free night’s sleep. Very close to Twizel with all amenities you need so as long as you’re self-contained you’re all set! We loved waking up to the turquoise blue lake set amongst the autumn trees and there is so much space even having a dozen others staying there, there is more than enough room to have your own area. Definitely recommend.

Reviewed over 3 years ago

TP&MM's avatar


Ranking: 7/10

No facilities so difficult to say much. Peaceful, quiet and lovely view over the lake. Nice area to stroll around and maybe do some fishing. Actually area for freedom camping a little confusing so make sure you check “the map” they have posted to ensure you are in the correct spot.

Reviewed over 3 years ago

Andy Bond's avatar

Andy Bond

Ranking: 9/10

Wow what a great location a few motorhomes here but all easily 300m apart so its like your own private wilderness with amazing views. Hopefully the stars will be an amazing sight later.
We have not seen any amenities as already emptied tanks and filled water before we arrived.
This is freedom camping at one of its best. And the star show was really good even with half moon.

Reviewed over 3 years ago

Charlesbrooksphotographer's avatar


Ranking: 8/10

Magnificent spot, beautiful views, but toilets inexplicably locked when we visited.

Reviewed about 4 years ago

Isaliner and Mathieu's avatar

Isaliner and Mathieu

Ranking: 7/10

Nice and quiet spot next to the busy ones. Good spot to have lunch and a swim.

Reviewed about 6 years ago and experienced in February 2016