New freedom-camping technology

NZ government announces the funding of $8 million to improve the freedom-camping experience

Tourism Minister Kelvin Davies recently announced a package of new and expanded technology and other tools to encourage responsible camping and help communities, and local councils better manage freedom camping this summer.

"The government has been investing to improve the freedom-camping experience for everyone because we want to support our regions to thrive and our country to benefit from sustainable tourism growth," he says.


Last August, the government announced the funding of $8 million to 38 local councils to support a wide range of activities including education and enforcement projects, ambassador programmes, as well as temporary facilities.

The new tools include three technology pilots

  • A new Ambassador app that will help responsible camping ambassadors employed by councils provide information and advice to campers, and record the number of vehicles at sites, which can be used for reporting purposes. About 20 councils have already signed up to use the app.
  • A new zoning pilot across the Kaikōura district to show campers where they can and can’t camp. The zones are colour-coded and available to campers via the CamperMate app.
  • An expanded pilot of AI solarpowered cameras that will monitor capacity at a minimum of 10 camping sites. Campers using the CamperMate app will see in realtime whether the campsite they are interested in is full. This was successful last year, with 90 per cent of people who checked a site’s availability selecting an alternate site when their first choice was full. Other initiatives
  • Free access to the self-contained vehicle standard, saving users about $70 each. Local councils, campers and those who fit-out selfcontained vehicles can easily see what’s required for certification as self-contained.
  • Tourism New Zealand’s education campaign from 2018 has been expanded. It encourages campers to stay at sites that have facilities and includes materials for all councils, Regional Tourism Organisations and i-SITES to help guide camping behaviour.
  • Research is being commissioned to understand the number, profile and economic value of New Zealanders and international visitors who are freedom camping this summer.

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