Free Parking Frequently Asked Questions

​​​Why don't you just make it free?

Experience around the world indicates free parking in a city just means inner city workers take the parks up all day and don't leave any available for shoppers. This system means parking is free for most shoppers but still encourages turnover of parks.

How do the sensors know where the cars are?

Each parking bay has a number and this is linked to a sensor and a wifi connection. When a car parks in a spot the sensor registers a vehicle is parked there. The parking wardens scan the vehicle registration details into a mobile device and this links that data to the previous record of how long the car has been in that spot. The sensors also let us know when someone parks in a disabled space, clearway or bus lane.

Why is it $6 per hour when it was $2 per hour before?

For most people it should work out cheaper. Previously people could only park for two hours maximum in a space, as on-street parking was time limited to two hours, and they had to pay for that parking. Now the first two hours are free, so if someone parks for 3 hours in the CBD it will cost them $6, which is what 3 hours of parking would have cost before.

Our research shows the majority of people use on-street CBD parks for less than two hours.

Is it $6 automatically after the first two hours?

No, it is pro-rata $6 per hour so 20 minutes is $2.

How much are the parking fines?

Fines vary depending on the type of infringement and length of time. As examples only, overdue parking starts at $12 and can go to over $50 depending on the length of time, while parking in a disabled park without authorisation has a fine of $150.

Can I pay at the meter if I'm going to be longer than two hours?

Unfortunately you can't pay at the start of the free parking through the meters – you are best to download the app if you don't want to have to pop back to pay. The meter starts counting from when the money goes in, so if you are going to be longer you will need to top the meter up at the end of the two free hours. However through the Pay My Park app you can register your parking space and pay via your mobile without having to return to your car.

What if I move car park spaces?

The two hours applies to a total for that vehicle in the CBD. Once that vehicle has been logged for two hours between 8am and 8pm, the $6 per hour charge will apply. 

But I park in the CBD for work – where will I park?

There are a number of off-street parking buildings and areas in the city, many offering early bird or discounted rates. A map of all the parking areas is available at

Public transport, cycling or walking may also be options, and the Waikato Regional Council has recently released a new app which includes new bus services available. Go to

for more info.

Is it still free before 9 and after 3?

No. The new initiative replaces all previous parking and promotions.

What about Sundays and public holidays?

The new parking applies Monday to Saturday. There is no charge and no time limit on Sundays and Public Holidays.

How do I download the Pay My Park app?

The app is available through Google Play and the App Store, and for further information you can go to their website

Can I still pay with coins?

Yes. The parking meters will remain for now, as will the pay and display machines.

Is it more expensive with the app?

No. As with many similar products there are some transaction charges for loading funds onto the app or paying by credit card, but parking payments made through the app are discounted to $5.50 per hour to incorporate these changes.

Why are you installing sensors?

Similar sensors have been used in many areas around the country and in Hamilton. They indicate when a vehicle is parked in a spot and can relay this information to the parking app to show where parking is available. We have also installed the sensors in disability parking and loading zone areas so we can more quickly identify if vehicles are causing safety or access issues.

Is this all about making more money?

No. This is about supporting one of the goals of the Central City Transformation Plan, to make it easier for people to access the city centre. The free parking means there will be a loss of parking revenue during the trial.​

Your parking wardens are just revenue-gathering aren't they?

No. Our wardens do an outstanding job in keeping our city moving. Without wardens to monitor our parking Hamilton would be log-jammed with people taking up disabled parks, bus stops, loading zones, clearways, blocking access ways and the like.

Page reviewed: 15 Jul 2021 1:42pm