Laws and Regulations

Boundaries don't protect rivers, people do.


One of the most important considerations when planning camping options is to get the low-down on the rules and regulations around camping in each state or country.

Many countries also have a freedom to roam right where you can even camp on private land, specifically Scotland, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Austria, Czech Republic and Switzerland.

Victoria, AU and New Zealand have policies that ensure some land by major rivers have public access rights. In Victoria, there is 170,000 km of water frontage. About 30,000 km of this is Crown water frontage. The remainder is private land, reserves, parks or state forests. In NZ, the Queen’s Chain is a concept granting access to some foreshore and water frontage that is usually 20 m wide, or 1 chain. Both policies are fairly extensive but neither completely provide access to the water frontages of all major rivers.

We didn't spend too much time in hotels in the USA, the best places were the BLM lands that had free camping in amazing places all over the USA. These were usually close enough to the big National Parks to avoid the crowds and saved a lot of cash at the same time!

When kayaking, apparently the islands and the banks below the high water mark of many rivers are considered public, but that doesn't necessarily mean that camping is allowed. If forced to camp, at least you will not be trespassing! In this case you are now hiding from public officials rather than landowners so minimise your presence there by following the principles of covert camping to avoid being forced to move on or potentially a fine.

In smaller and more remote towns, you can try calling an official and ask if there are any places to camp for the night near the river. They might give permission to camp in a local park or public building, although they will always suggest a hotel or campground if the town does have one.

In fact, once you’re off the beaten track you can probably quickly find somewhere to bunk down for the night. Just always be aware of your surroundings and stay safe!