Where do you go when you’ve gotta go and there’s nowhere to go?

The car park at the bottom of Mount Iron on the outskirts of Wanaka almost always has at least one overnight freedom camper.

If you’re not prepared to pay to stay the night it’s not a bad place to choose because there are public loos just over the fence.

Not everywhere freedom campers frequent has such convenient conveniences.

If you travel from Wanaka to Cromwell earlyish in the morning it’s not unusual to pass more than a dozen freedom campers parked up along the road beside Lake Dunstan.

That might not be a problem for the bigger campervans which have their own loos. But it is for the smaller vans and station wagons which don’t.

There’s not a public loo for miles so where do these campers go when they need to go?

The answer sadly is almost anywhere which has led to calls to ban campervans and/or restrict freedom camping.

Waitaki Mp Jacqui Dean says education not regulation is the answer:

“We need to be communicating better with visitors to this country, so that they appreciate the precious environment in which they’re travelling and understand the expectations which exist.

“Part of the responsibility lies with rental and tour companies who are often the first point of contact for many of the travellers who visit this country.

“However, local councils also need to step up to the mark, by providing campervan friendly facilities with adequate toilet and rubbish disposal areas, appropriate signage outlining the rules and in some cases council staff visibly enforcing standards,” Mrs Dean said.

“I think this problem can be addressed if everyone works together and ensures that the expectations, which we as New Zealanders have in relation to our environment, are clearly passed on to visitors.”

Some districts do ban freedom campers in certain places for very good reasons  but I agree that on the whole education is better than regulation.

One of the reasons for the pee and pooh problem is probably that people from more populated countries aren’t accustomed to so much open space and distance between towns.

But open space isn’t necessarily public property and even if it is it’s not a public convenience.

Travellers need to know that if they can’t go they can’t stay.

2 Responses to Where do you go when you’ve gotta go and there’s nowhere to go?

  1. fredinthegrass says:

    “If you cant ‘go’, you cant stay” is the adage the motorhome/caravan industry should be adopting as a slogan.
    We have gone to the trouble of ‘self-containing’ our caravan, and the freedom we enjoy is legend. I have no problem with paying for the services I need, I object to paying for those I dont.
    I trust reason will prevail in the effort to sort out the mess!! and have real empathy with those who have to clean it up.
    I implore the authorities to resist the urge to “knee-jerk”, instead work with those in the industry to allow freedom camping to remain where it is practicable.
    There is nothing quite like waking in the morning to the sun rising over the hills/ocean; a leisurely ‘brew’ and the feeling of the space around you.


  2. gravedodger says:

    In support of fredinthegrass the sentiment of the ignorant could easily curtail those of us who when we “freedom” camp leave only tyre marks.
    The N Z Motor caravan Association has over 30 000 members and have for some time been working to have all mobile homes “self contained”,basically meaning we carry more storage for “grey water” than we have fresh water, a “blackwater tank” or cartridge toilet for body waste, rubbish container, all drains sealed with a waste trap bend and a tap at the end of the drain to prevent spillage, fire extinguisher and carry a 50mm sq diamond shaped green sticker on the right rear of the movan stating the van is S.C. We operate under our policy of “pack in, pack out”.
    Some of the commercial hire vans now carry this status and the N.Z.M.C.A. now have S.C.as a prerequisite for new members.
    A few Local Bodies are using S.C.to monitor compliance. Westland Dist Council allow free camping on the Grey Rvr bank west of the Cobden bridge and the security firm patrol at night and ask non complying vans to move on. The Assn also operate what we term park over properties (POP”S) throughout N Z, around 20 and growing, and the van must be S.C. to use them with members policing it. Members also operate private POP’s with the same rules.
    We members of N.Z.M.C.A. are as disgusted as anyone else at the behaviour of the non S.C. movans whose occupants do what bears do ie s**t in the woods. Any transgression by a member should be reported to Head office. ( NZMCA vans should all be carrying their member number on the red wings fore and aft and should also carry their current membership card). Until all Local Bodies accept the S.C. status and give the public and/or the authorities a chance to force non S.C. vans to go to camping grounds and not freedom camp I fear our activities will be unnecessarily curtailed in a kneejerk reaction to what I concede is a serious problem.


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