NZMCA moves to clean up freedom camping confusion

The New Zealand Motor Caravan Association is tackling the problem of rogue campers head on with a three-point plan to clarify freedom camping legislation.

CEO Bruce Lochore says the NZMCA was continuing its close work with councils throughout New Zealand to promote the consistent message that freedom camping on council-controlled land from Cape Reinga to Bluff should be strictly limited to certified self-contained vehicles.

Bruce believes 90 percent of issues councils faced during the recent summer period when freedom camping issues were constantly in the headlines, were caused by vehicles which were not self-contained. He says applying a consistent message throughout the country that freedom camping is only for certified self-contained vehicles would help clarify the ground rules for both local and international visitors.

"This will ensure there’s no room for misunderstanding or misinterpretation. Everyone will know their responsibilities wherever they freedom camp in New Zealand."

The NZMCA was also concerned at the proliferation of vehicles that carry certificates of self-containment which are not truly self-contained. This includes vehicles that carry a Porta Potti to circumvent the legislation, but it cannot be used in all situations.

"We’re aiming to introduce a higher standard of self-containment which will not include station wagons and small ‘vans. We want to protect the standard of self-containment."

The NZMCA was also working closely with the tourism industry operators to "actively encourage" rental companies to be a part of the solution.

"The reason the Freedom Camping Act came into being was to enable councils to collect revenue from illegal campers."

Bruce acknowledged the difficulty councils faced when trying to enforce fines against visitors to the country so he has been working with operators through the Tourism Industry Authority to encourage rental companies to collect fines on behalf of local body authorities.

"We believe the simple solution is for the motorhome rental industry to step up and agree to assist in collecting infringement fines for councils. We’re recommending to councils that when an infringement notice is issued to a motorhome hirer, they also immediately issue a duplicate copy to the rental company that owns the vehicle. That way, the rental company has a record of the fine when the hirer returns the vehicle and it can be collected from them at that point – before the hirer leaves the country."

Bruce believes that everyone benefits from freedom camping which he says is "the industry’s Golden Goose" and possibly the single biggest motivating factor when people consider the purchase of a recreational vehicle.

"We have worked hard to promote and protect this legislation and we cannot let all that hard work go to waste. For our part, the NZMCA believes we all need to be part of the solution."

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