“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.”
- 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.