The KiwiCamp Story

Left to right: Claire Barlow, Kamila Mlejnkova & Chris Wagner

KiwiCamp is the brainchild of young businessman and entrepreneur, Chris Wagner from Blenheim. Chris owns and operates Riverlands Roadhouse, a truck stop designed to cater for drivers in the heavy transport industry. 

With ample parking, a 24/7 café on site and access to toilets, showers, and laundry facilities this spot became increasingly popular with young freedom campers looking for somewhere inexpensive and secure to spend the night.

The influx of this new type of customer presented many challenges for Chris but, rather than asking campers to move on, he put considerable thought, time, and money into coming up with a way to meet their basic security, hygiene and social needs.

He wanted something durable, affordable, environmentally responsible and simple to use.

Chris and his fiancé Kamila met while freedom camping so they have a clear understanding of what a camper’s needs are, and together they opened the first KiwiCamp at their Riverlands Roadhouse site in March 2017.

KiwiCamp and KiwiCash were born.

Who is the other face in the picture? That’s me, Claire Barlow. Formally the Mayor of the stunning Mackenzie District – a popular tourist destination that was grappling with the negative impacts of the growing freedom camping demographic. 

I firmly believed that the solution to the problems we were facing lay in finding a way to manage the needs of these visitors while charging them a reasonable fee to do so. Not driving them out of our towns and making them feel unwelcome.

I met Chris in 2016 while the idea for KiwiCamp and the KiwiCash payment system were still being formulated, and immediately saw the huge potential for his idea to transform the freedom camping experience, not only for visitors but for councils and local communities as well.

I was invited to join the team and spread the word, and here we are – Team KiwiCamp!

You can find at more about our story here:

KiwiCamp fees make freedom camping sustainable, says owner - Anan Zaki

The man behind a possible tech-savvy solution to freedom camping wants to roll out his technology to the rest of New Zealand.

Former mayor joins KiwiCamp revolution to fix freedom camping - Jeffery Kitt

A former South Island mayor has joined the KiwiCamp revolution as Chris Wagner opens his platform to the world...

KiwiCamp: a new option for freedom campers March 2017

Freedom camping is a popular choice for many travellers in New Zealand, however whilst it may be free of charge, it’s not free of responsibility.

New home for freedom campers near Blenheim - Checkpoint

A freedom camping pod near Blenheim will offer campers a place to pull up, scan an app on their phone and stay the night...

KiwiCamp concept aims to solve freedom camping problem - Jeffery Kitt

Meet Chris Wagner, the creator of KiwiCamp - a new freedom camping concept unique to Marlborough where tourists use an app on their phone to pay for amenities like showers, washing machines and electricity...