Am I allowed to Free Camp (pitch a tent anywhere)?Edit
Most places (especially easily accessible ones) you aren't allowed to Free Camp, but honestly, I'd just do it anyway. Be polite and plead ignorance if you get moved on. Make sure you camp out of site from the road and you'll be fine. The only risk will be getting turfed out of your spot in the middle of the night. (reddit Source )
I've heard of people just pitching a tent near some running water, but it's generally frowned upon, and 99% of the time is illegal. If you do this, do not shit in the bush. Hold on until you find a toilet or some designated structure to shit into. If you absolutely cannot wait, dig a hole a foot deep, shit in it, and bury it afterwards. If you shit on the ground and leave it a Taniwha will hunt you down and eat you. Just make sure you don't leave any litter behind at all, and don't go sitting on any bird breeding grounds, or eating the wildlife. Treat the outdoors in NZ like it's a sacred site.(reddit Source )
Where can I find information about campsites in NZ?Edit
Visit the Department of Conservation website which manages public campsites in conservation land. Click on a region to see sub-regions, then click on a sub-region to get to the list of campsites for that sub-region. Click on the links to the maps in the "See also" section to see a map of where they actually are (yip, website isn't totally user-friendly). Generally, there are plenty to choose from, and very inexpensive (or free). There are private campsites too (which will have things like showers, playgrounds, and allotted areas to pitch a tent) but unless you need a shower or to use the laundry facilities, you're generally better off to stick to the DOC campsites (which incidentally some - but very few - have things like showers also, what each DOC campsite has will be detailed on their website with little pictograms).
An alternative and sometimes easier way to browse campsites is to download the PDF brochures, which you will also find printed in official information centers around NZ.
If you choose to stay at DOC campsites, then make sure you read through all the information on this page, which gives you an idea of how to use them. There's generally no DOC staff around, so the system relies on people knowing how it works.(reddit Source )