|by Brad Tuttle||Camping, New Zealand||8|
A new service in New Zealand allows you to park an RV in dozens of locations at no charge other than a reasonable membership fee.
The service is called Native Parks. Pay your fee (about $53 in U.S. dollars) and you get a membership card and handbook listing all the different places you can park for free. At last check, there were about 80 parking locations, with most on the North Island. All of the "motorhome havens," as they're called, are on privately owned properties where nothing is expected of travelers. The only real requirement for a property owner to welcome RV tourists is that the property must have a flat piece of land suitable for parking. In other words: Don't expect electric hookups, bathrooms, showers, or other amenities that come at typical RV campgrounds. On the other hand, you're not paying the $20 or so to park your RV either.
While many motorhome havens are located on the rural estates of homeowners who simply want to be hospitable to travelers, others are situated on the properties of wineries, galleries, and cheese makers. But again: It's not necessary for any money to change hands during your stay. On the other hand, here's your chance to hang out and get to know some real Kiwis, who are certainly right up there among the friendliest people on earth.
As for reservations, there is no central online system or phone number to call. The handbook comes with contact info for each parking area, and it's up to the traveler to call up and ask if there's room at the haven. Other than December through March, which is the busy season for RV tourists in New Zealand, openings should be easy to come by.
Check out Native Parks for more info.