Below is a list of commonly asked questions about parks and recreation. The answers are a bit further down.
Note that although this FAQ is designed to be helpful it is not a complete discussion nor a substitute for legal advice. It may not cover important issues that affect you and, depending on your situation, you may wish to contact us for further information or advice.
- Can you help me plan my trip around New Zealand?
- What types of facilities do DOC campsites have and how much do they cost?
- Am I allowed to freedom camp on DOC parks and reserves?
- Can I get an annual pass for DOC campsites?
- Do I need a NZMCA pass to camp on DOC campsites?
- Where can I find out about staying in my campervan/motorhome?
- How do I pay to stay at DOC huts?
- What do I do if a hut that can't be booked is full when I arrive?
- How do I change a booking and/or get a refund for a cancellation?
- Why can’t I see my booking when I click on the Change or Cancel Bookings link on the Online Booking System page?
- I haven’t received a confirmation letter for my booking. What should I do?
- If I don’t have a credit card or can’t book online what should I do?
- Do I have to make a booking for the Great Walks or can I chance it when I get there?
- When does online booking open each year?
- Is it possible to go on a waiting list for the on-line booking of accommodation for tracks and places to visit?
- How can I book a hut or campsite if it isn’t on the online booking system?
- How do I change the date order of the huts/campsites I have booked?
- Where can I get maps of the places I want to visit?
Hunting and fishing
- Can non-residents get permits to hunt on conservation land in New Zealand?
- Can I hunt with crossbows/archery equipment on public conservation land?
- Where can I get information about waterfowl hunting?
- Where can I get information about shellfish or other fish quotas?
- Can I fish for pest fish (like Koi carp) without a licence?
- Where can I go mountain biking?
- Where am I allowed to take my dog?
- Where can I light a fire?
Can you help me plan my trip around New Zealand?
The best place to start your trip planning is here on the DOC website using our extensive parks and recreation information.
You will also find DOC visitor centres have friendly staff who are happy to provide suggestions about places to go and things to see and do.
Visitor centres in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch have information and brochures for conservation areas throughout New Zealand, so are well worth a visit.
Regional visitor centres, closer to parks in Russell, Napier, Nelson and Queenstown, will help you plan trips and activities within these regions.
All DOC visitor centres can help you with Great Walk hut and campsite bookings and tickets.
For accommodation and other general tourist information and itinerary planning you need to contact an i-site visitor centre.
What types of facilities do DOC campsites have and how much do they cost?
There are three categories of DOC campsites (known as Conservation Campsites): Serviced, Standard and Basic.
Find out more in our 'Stay at a campsite' section.
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 the camping section.
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.
Can I get an annual or weekly pass for DOC campsites?
You can't get an annual pass for DOC campsites. However you can get passes if you are travelling in rental campervan or car or are a member of the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association (NZMCA). Find out more about campsite passes.
Do I need a NZMCA pass to camp on DOC campsites?
No. You can pay fees when you arrive.
Find out about staying in campervans/motorhomes on the Campervans page.
How do I pay to stay at DOC huts?
To stay in most Great Walk huts and campsites you need to purchase a Great Walk Ticket in advance and, for some, make a booking too. Great Walk Tickets have specific dates of validity, determined at the time of booking/purchase.
The easiest and best way to pay for staying in other types of huts (Serviced and Standard category) is to purchase a backcountry hut pass or hut tickets.They are available from any DOC visitor centre. Read more about backcountry hut passes and tickets
If you do not find the answer to your question here please read the help page within the Online Booking System.
How do I change a booking and/or get a refund for a cancellation?
You can cancel all or part of your booking, transfer your booking to a new start date (provided you don’t want to change the services booked or the order of them) and make additional bookings online. Use the Change or Cancel Bookings link on the Online Booking System page.
For other changes, you will need to contact the DOC office listed on your confirmation letter.
For medical related refunds you must contact the office listed on your confirmation letter as soon as possible and no later than one month after your proposed departure date with your medical certificate and credit card details.
You can also email email@example.com for help.
Note: DOC does not hold credit card details for security reasons. If you do ask DOC to change or cancel your booking you must supply your credit card details at the time you make your request. Remember that email is not a secure way to do this.
If a DOC office has had to look at or alter your booking for you for any reason you will need to contact the DOC booking office listed on your confirmation letter to cancel your booking.
Why can’t I see my booking when I click on the Change or Cancel Bookings link on the Online Booking System page?
There are several possible reasons:
- The booking has been cancelled.
- You have started your travel (and so the start date is in the past).
- The booking was never successfully completed (you would not have got a confirmation letter or email, or got an error message while you were trying to book).
- You have a lot of bookings, so you may need to use the scroll bar to find the one you want.
I haven’t received a confirmation letter for my booking. What should I do?
If your payment is accepted but you did not see a confirmation letter displayed and/or did not receive a confirmation email, you should phone or email the DOC office responsible for the services you are booking. You can get the phone number from the contact us section of the Online Booking System or from the web page of the track/place you have booked. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org for help.
If the confirmation letter did appear on the screen but you didn’t receive your email, check your junk/spam folder.
If I don’t have a credit card or can’t book online what should I do?
People who are unable to book online are still able to contact a DOC office to make a booking by phone, fax, mail, email or at the counter (see contact details for the track you wish to book).
If you have a credit card, but can’t book online, you can also book by phone, fax or email (remember that email is not a secure way to supply credit card details).
If you don’t have a credit card, it is best to book at the counter of a DOC Visitor Centre. You can then pay by cash, cheque or Eftpos.
If you cannot get to a DOC Visitor Centre, please phone them to discuss your options. Payment can be made by posting a cheque, but you need to check with the Visitor Centre first, as a booking fee may apply. The cheque must be received within 10 days, and the booking will not be confirmed until receipt..
What do I do if a hut that can't be booked is full when I arrive?
You might like to consider bringing a tent with you as a backup. Otherwise, there is normally room on the floor!
Do I have to make a booking for the Great Walks or can I chance it when I get there?
This varies between the Great Walk tracks.
- Lake Waikaremoana, Abel Tasman Coast, Heaphy and Rakiura tracks
All adults, youth, children and infants who want to walk these tracks must be booked, at all times of the year.
- Milford, Routeburn, Kepler and Tongariro Northern Circuit tracks
During the summer season (October to April) all adults, youth, children and infants who want to walk these tracks must be booked.
During winter a booking is not required, but you must purchase a Backcountry Hut Pass.
- Whanganui River Journey
This does not require a booking but in the summer season (October to April), you must purchase a date stamped Great Walk Pass – this cannot be done online. See the track page for more information.
If walkers do not have a valid accommodation booking they will be charged penalty rates requiring payment of the relevant age rate and up to 100% of the adult rate.
Visit the Great Walks pages for more information.
When does online booking open each year?
Bookings for the Routeburn, Kepler and Milford tracks open mid-July. Most other facilities and destinations allow you to book at any time, for dates up to 1 - 2 years in advance. Some of the tracks do not require bookings (for specific people on specific dates) in the off season (May to September/October), although you may still be required to purchase a backcountry hut pass.
Is it possible to go on a waiting list for the online booking of accommodation for tracks and places to visit?
No, there is no waiting list system operating.
How can I book a hut or campsite if it isn’t on the online booking system?
Only some facilities can be booked.
Bookings can be made for almost all Serviced Campsites at the nearest DOC visitor centre (there are some exceptions such as the Totaranui Campsite that require you to book at the campsite. Check information about individual campsites on their campsite page. Find campsites.
Standard and Basic camping areas usually cannot be booked and are offered on a first come first served basis. Check individual campsite pages for booking information. Find campsites.
Fees are usually collected by a camp warden at Serviced Campsites and on a self-registration basis at Standard Campsites.
Backcountry Hut Passes, Great Walk Hut Passes, and Serviced Alpine Hut Fees can be ordered by phone, fax, email, post or in person from DOC visitor centres nationwide.
Find out more about bookings in our Places to stay pages.
How do I change the date order of the huts/campsites I have booked?
You can’t make this change online. Please contact the office responsible for the services you are booking.
Where can I get maps of the places I want to visit?
You can use DOC maps: Discover the outdoors. These interactive maps show DOC's key places, campsites, tracks and huts, and visitor centres.
You can buy maps and atlases at DOC visitor centres.
Hunting and fishing
How can I find out about hunting in New Zealand?
Can non-residents get permits to hunt on conservation land in New Zealand?
Yes. Find out more about hunting permits.
Visitors to New Zealand for 12 months or less and wishing to bring in a firearm for hunting need to apply for a Visitor’s Firearm Licence and an import permit. The application must be made in person once in New Zealand. Find out more about firearms in New Zealand by visiting the New Zealand Police website. This site contains, amongst other valuable information, the New Zealand Arms Code.
Can I hunt with crossbows/archery equipment on public conservation land?
In most conservancies only hunting bows are permitted (i.e. no crossbows). There are special conditions, and these can vary around the country, so it's important to ask at your local DOC office when you apply for your hunting licence.
Where can I get information about waterfowl hunting?
You need to contact Fish & Game for information about game bird/waterfowl hunting.
Where can I get information about shellfish or other fish quotas?
Contact the Ministry for Primary Industries to find out about these quotas.
Can I fish for pest fish (like Koi carp) without a licence?
You do not need a licence to fish for pest fish, provided those fish aren’t freshwater fish described as sports fish under the Freshwater Fisheries Regulations 1983.
You need a licence to fish for any sports fish. The common sports fish are trout and salmon. But the definition also includes some coarse fish - perch, tench (in all New Zealand) and rudd (in the Auckland/Waikato Fish & Game region only). In some areas these named coarse fish species may be considered pest fish by DOC or territorial regional council. However, by law, a licence is needed to catch all sports fish. Koi carp is not a sports fish and hence can be caught without a licence.
Where can I go mountain biking?
There are some great places to ride for the day or a number of days. Find out where you can mountain bike on public conservation land. Mountain biking.
Where am I allowed to take my dog?
You can find out about places you can take your dog access in the dog access section of the site.
Where can I light a fire?
Fires are not permitted in national parks and are not permitted is some other conservation areas - check with the local DOC office. DOC strongly discourages the use of fires in any public conservation area as it is one of the greatest threats to our natural environment.