New freedom camping rules have come into place across Christchurch and the Banks Peninsula, thanks to the City Council amending the Freedom Camping Bylaw. Non-self-contained freedom camping is now banned across the district, however it’s not all bad news for freedom campers: certified self-contained freedom camping without time restriction is allowed in rural zones. These new rules reinforce the importance of sustainable freedom camping, and make it even more important for motorhome holidaymakers to know the difference between self-contained and non-self-contained models.
Tracey Weston, the Council’s Head of Regulatory Compliance, said that staff will be regularly checking up to make sure that campers are respecting the new rules.
“Staff will be making sure that freedom camping across our district is well managed and safe for campers, residents, other visitors and the local environment. That means checking people are camping in certified self-contained vehicles, obeying relevant signs, and following the rules around lengths of stay, where applicable.”
Ms Weston was quick to reassure campers that these changes won’t affect those who are merely parking up to take a rest stop or share a bite to eat - the rules apply exclusively to freedom camping, which essentially means staying overnight at a site. However, those who are found in violation of the rules could receive a $200 fine so it’s well worth doing your research to make sure the campervan you’re going with is certified as self-contained by the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association. If you’re wondering how to get hold of a certified self-contained motorhome, take a look at this quick and easy guide to freedom camping in New Zealand.
And if you’re wondering whether you can slide by with a little sneaky DIY stickering, stop right there. Ms Weston says that Council staff will be paying close attention to the authenticity of the certified self-contained stickers.
“We’ve seen instances where people have tried to forge these stickers in an attempt to flout the rules, but staff are aware of this and know what to look out for.”
Christchurch City Council brought in the Freedom Camping Bylaw last year, assigning five different sites for non-self-contained freedom camping, but problems with site conditions including unsanitary conditions and overcrowding forced the Council to eventually close all of these sites for camping on a permanent basis.
The most important thing to remember for a successful, responsible and fun freedom camping experience (aside from following local rules and regulations) is ensuring that you leave your camping spot in a better state than when you found it.
With a full review of Christchurch City Council’s Freedom Camping Bylaw coming up next year, practicing responsible freedom camping is more important than ever.