Eleven people were hit with fines after illegally freedom camping in DoC-controlled spots over summer, with the department taking in $2200 for campers' misdemeanours.
Figures from the Department of Conservation released to the Herald on Sunday show rangers and wardens working for the department issued nine fines to people camping in the Central Plateau area over summer.
It comes as councils aruond the country wrestle with public consulation over freedom camping bylaws in individual regions.
Under DoC's watch, one fine was issued to someone camping around Tongariro National Park, and another person was penalised for camping around the Franz Josef glacier.
All of the fines came to the value of $200, issued to groups of people failing to abide to rules laid down for campers in the area.
Camping or preparing to camp in a prohibited area was the most common offence picked up by DoC staffers.
Other actions that would warrant a fine of this sum include damaging a camping area, dumping waste or rubbish, refusing to leave an area when asked to, and camping without a toilet in a spot only allowing for fully self-contained vehicles.
An infringement notice would typically be issued to one person in the offending tent or vehicle - usually the driver or the individual who appeared to be in charge.
DoC's director of national operations, Hilary Aikman, said extra rangers and wardens were employed over the summer period to collect fees, keep places tidy and advocate for New Zealand's natural attractions.
"They also monitor popular freedom camping sites to ensure people are camping in places where this is permitted, behaving responsibly and not damaging the environment," Aikman said.
"We work closely with local councils and others to ensure our approach supports their work in managing freedom camping and to identify long- and short-term solutions.
Aikman said there were plenty of inexpensive options for campers, as well as widespread communication around appropriate behaviour when travelling.
Camping is restricted or prohibited at more than 200 sites across New Zealand.
Reasons for these restrictions ranged from public health and safety to the potential damage human presence can cause to plants and wildlife.
Issues around freedom camping are dealt with by a targeted working group set up by Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis in March last year.
The group comprises nine people across local government, industry and government - including QChris Roberts of Tourism Industry Aotearoa.
"The goal is to address challenges around the impact of freedom camping on local communities and the environment, while at the same time enabling individual communities to take advantage of the opportunities freedom camping presents," Davis said at the time.
Thousands of unruly freedom campers have been issued infringements under regional freedom camping bylaws over the past two years.
What the law says
• The Freedom Camping Act was passed in 2011, laying down laws around when and where people could camp outdoors.
• The act rules anyone parking or camping in a public space overnight is bound by the same laws as occupying public land at any other time.
• Local councils were given powers to restrict or prohibit freedom camping.
• As well as regional restrictions, the Department of Conservation has identified more than 200 sites where camping is prohibited or restricted.
• Tougher rules implemented in February 2018 set regulations around which vehicles could park in areas reserved for "self-contained" campervans.
• Fines range from $200 to $10,000 — the latter for those caught dumping major waste.
• Over the first three months of last year, Queenstown Lakes District issued 1732 infringement notices, totalling almost $350,000 in fines.