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Yes it is allowed, as a scout leader we never stay in huts, would drive people insane with a bunch of scouts around plus they would not have a bed anywhere. Lots of doc controlled land has no serviced huts etc, the only option is camping. It will be looked down on if you have a fire or take a dog into certain area's, but you can get permission under certain circumstances. I had permission to camp on land, take dogs and have a fire on land near hamner as I was trapping the area for possums. The area was only able to be accessed through private land which I gained permission to cross. Doc are unable to police the full amount of areas they are in charge of, you will be able to do most things most of the time without repercussions, but the stupid things some people do always happen to be when Doc is around so respect your surroundings and stick to the rules as closely as possible, if you are not being stupid they are generally pretty good. If you are tramping in somewhere and camping you are not a freedom camper, you are a tramper. Sometimes you may decide to do a tramp, get there and check the book and find out the hut will already be full with trampers but you are not expected to leave, you go in and camp if you are prepared for it. If you are not prepared, that's your issue.
Just a small point but, can we stop using the expression 'DOC Land'? It is public land administered by DOC. I always make it really clear when talking to anyone about access etc. Freedom camping generally occurs beside roads which is not where i stay either. As for hunters always staying in huts, I do not believe that statement is even close to accurate. I would suggest that there a a few front desk employees of the good department who's knowledge is limited.
Unless it's changed the prohibition on camping great walks was a certain distance I think its 200m or 400m. But would have check. The same thing around huts, have to pay half the hut fees
Here is a copy and paste from the DOC website. I wonder if the fine the DOC fella was talking about was related to campervan camping or people camping in restricted areas?
Am I allowed to freedom camp on DOC parks and reserves?
Yes, you can freedom camp on public conservation land. There are some restrictions, so check with the nearest DOC visitor centre first.
Note that there is no freedom camping on Great Walk tracks where you can only camp at Conservation Campsites, or stay in huts (except for the Milford Track Great Walk which only has huts).
You must follow minimal impact practice when freedom camping and leave no trace of your stay. Read and follow the Camping care code so you know how to protect natural areas.
Basic Conservation Campsites are free. They can be located in our Conservation Campsites by region pages.
You can receive an instant fine if you freedom camp in a designated area that prohibits feedom camping. Find areas where freedom camping is prohibited.
Thanks Neil, the guy in the DOC office in Wellington, said it was a $200 fine for "freedom camping" on DOC land. I said, so what do hunters do, he said, the stay in huts. Cant see that happening all the time, they will camp where the deer/goats/pigs are likely to be.
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