Freedom camping under review in NZ

Photography by: Getty Images

An influx in freedom camping has prompted a nationwide initiative to reduce its impact on our environment and communities

To ensure the continued growth of tourism and sustainability of freedom camping long into the future, Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis suggests a "collaborative approach" and therefore has invited 22 mayors from across New Zealand to a strategy meeting.

At this meeting, scheduled in March 2018, the minister plans to discuss how the growing number of freedom campers can be managed with hopes for finding a solution that will work for residents, the environment, and freedom campers.

Freedom camping in New Zealand

Freedom -camping -review -NZ

In New Zealand freedom camping is regulated by the Department of Conservation and by local councils (Freedom Camping Act 2011) to ensure that it is done safely and with respect for the local environment and community. Many local councils allow freedom camping exclusively to those with certified self-contained vehicles that have built in facilities which will reduce their impact on the environment.

While Minister Davis notes that "responsible freedom campers are welcomed in our regions and the vast majority are respectful", those not following regulations may be asked to move on and are likely to face fines.

Over the past 10 years, the number of people enjoying freedom camping in New Zealand has increased considerably. The 70,000 members of the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association (NZMCA), trampers, surfers and cyclists are all known to enjoy freedom camping. So too are the 115,000 international visitors Minister Davis reports to have done "at least some" freedom camping while in the country. Some Kiwi communities have now become frustrated with the impact it is having, Kelvin says. Blocked access to public spaces, noise, litter, human waste, and overcrowding are outlined as the topic of these complaints.

Looking broadly at the place freedom camping has in the New Zealand tourism offering, the minister is keen to listen to Kiwi communities to tackle freedom camping "pressure points" in time for next summer’s tourist season.

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