Freedom campers deterred by fines and hostile locals could head for the East Cape.
Gisborne District Council said the East Coast region was one of the "last bastions of freedom camping".
Unrestricted camping spots were available on land that held no title, just metres from the sea on the rugged and sparsely populated coast.
Community facilities manager Terry McMillan said free camping numbers were higher than ever, and local residents overwhelmingly supported it.
"[The community] sees it as a chance for people from all walks of life to take the family to the beach for true East Coast experience," he said.
"One of the pleasures about freedom camping is that no one will be turned away. Everyone will find a spot and make the most of it."
He estimated half of free campers were locals. But he added: "Many out-of-towners consider themselves locals as they have brought their families back for so many years."
He cited the Henry family, who have camped at free spots on the East Cape for 70 years. Five generations of the family have set down at Kaiaua Beach and Tolaga Bay.
The council does not charge for freedom camping, but asks that campers pay a permit fee which covers the cost of removing waste.