Tougher more consistent rules for freedom campers


A re-elected National Government will introduce tougher and more consistent freedom camping rules that will protect public spaces and crack down on poor behaviour, Paula Bennett and Anne Tolley say.

“Lots of Kiwis and many of our international visitors love to camp, and they make a large contribution to our tourism industry,” Tourism Spokesperson Paula Bennett says.

“Freedom campers stay longer and spend more on average than other visitors, but there are now a lot more people freedom camping than there used to be and a small minority don’t treat our roadsides and public spaces with adequate respect.

“Local councils have been asking the government to create more consistent rules and to help them penalise those who break these rules.”

National will:

  • Restrict all non self-contained vehicles to areas that are within easy walking distance – approximately 200 metres – of toilet facilities
  • Continue to allow Councils and the Department of Conservation to ban all freedom camping from certain areas, and extend these powers to LINZ and the NZTA to ensure Crown-owned land can also be restricted. The areas could be as small as a certain street or as large as a whole town centre
  • Allow Councils and the Department of Conservation to issue instant fines for those who break the rules. If the fine can’t be paid on the spot, it will be assigned to the vehicle owner, including rental car companies

Assigning the fine to the vehicle owner will incentivise rental companies to explain he rules and the importance of adhering to them to travellers.

“We will also create a new smartphone app to show exactly where people can and cannot camp, and ensure consistent public signage across the country to ensure freedom campers know their rights and responsibilities,” Local Government Spokesperson Anne Tolley says.

“Our changes will not affect trampers, campers and hunters who enjoy our back country areas as they are not considered freedom campers.

“We want responsible campers to continue enjoying the best of what New Zealand has to offer and add to the $380 million a year they currently spend in our regions.

“These sensible changes, which build on those we made ahead of the Rugby World Cup in 2011, will make the rules much easier to follow, and will still give Councils the flexibility to make rules that suit their communities alongside a simple way to punish those who break the rules with bad behaviour.”

This is a very good move.

Freedom campers in self-contained vehicles – providing they use their on-board loos and dispose of rubbish properly – don’t usually cause problems.

But people in vehicles which range from cars to camper vans without loos, do. Wayside parking areas have become littered with human waste and the problem of people defecating where they shouldn’t isn’t confined to the countryside.

A friend in Wanaka stepped in human pooh outside his gate when he went to get his paper in the morning. Another morning he saw someone who’d slept in his car walk out of the garden on the other side of the road, hitching up his trousers as he did so.

Tourism is good for the economy but the environmental and health costs are too high when travellers turn anywhere they stop into toilets.

Our tougher rules for freedom camping will protect public spaces & crack down on poor behaviour #PartyVoteNational #Delivering4NZers

Let the punishment fit the crime


The problem of freedom campers in vehicles without loos isn’t confined to rural areas.

A friend in Wanaka noticed something smelly on his shoe after he’d been out to pick up his paper early one morning.

When he went out later to check where it came from he found it wasn’t dog pooh but human. He’d seen a van parked outside his property earlier but it was long gone when he realised what the occupants had left behind.

He said on another occasion he’d seen a station wagon parked opposite his home one evening, next morning he saw a young woman wander out of the nieghbouring property, pulling up her trousers.

 Fortunately not everyone gets away with fouling public property:

Three Spanish tourists spent three hours in Te Anau yesterday picking up human waste after being caught by police for defecating on the grass verge at the end of a residential street.

The trio “volunteered” for community work as an alternative to a court appearance, Sergeant Tod Hollebon, of Te Anau, said in a statement yesterday.

Acting on a complaint from a member of the public, police found two women and a man near a rental van, which was not equipped with a toilet.

“There was washing drying on a fence and clearly the group had made themselves at home.”

After initially denying their activities, they admitted they had been using an “outside toilet”. . .

Generations of New Zealanders have been travelling round Europe in vans which aren’t self-contained but Europe doesn’t usually have the vast distances between settlements that we do here.

You might have some understanding for people caught short in the middle of nowhere because the distance between facilities was greater than expected but not for setting up camp at the end of a residential street.

As an alternative to a court appearance, the three tourists volunteered for community service.

They spent three hours “picking up exactly what they and others had deposited” around Te Anau roadside rest areas.

“All parties found this to be a positive outcome,” Sgt Hollebon said.

How good it is to see that police still have the ability to ensure the punishment fits the crime.

You can’t stay if you can’t go – again


The Hawea Community Association was so frustrated by rubbish and human waste left behind by visitors members blocked vehicle access to some areas.

Who can blame them?

As freedom campers increase in numbers so do problems with too few loos.

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean met the association and was impressed that they had come up with possible solutions:

Mrs Dean said suggestions from the meeting included more signage, maps of the North and South Islands, showing public toilets, dump stations and the different types of camping areas, a requirement to have porta potties in all camper vans without holding tanks and the progressive development of freedom camping areas with toilets provided.

The larger camper cans and caravans usually have their own loos. But smaller ones don’t and are often hired by people travelling on the cheap who don’t want to pay camping fees.

The provision of more public loos would help so that people have somewhere to go where they’re likely to stay but that comes at a cost.

Companies renting vehicles to tourists have a responsibility to educate them about the long distance between loos and give a very strong message that they can’t stay in places if there’s nowhere to go.

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