NZ freedom camping's future hangs in the balance
Are you a responsible freedom camper?
New Zealand is known for its stunning scenery and welcoming locals, but experienced travellers also know that New Zealand is a fantastic place for freedom camping. This practice of camping on public land for free is a cherished facet of campervan holidaying in New Zealand, but abuses by a small minority of freedom campers may see change on the horizon. A forum this week is looking to assess whether the recent measures designed to deal with a troublesome minority have had a significant impact. Both the Queenstown-Lakes District Council and Thames-Coromandel Council have been trialing a measure that makes it harder for rule-breaking foreign freedom campers to skip out on fines, and early assessments seem to show encouraging results. The massive popularity of freedom camping in NZ has led to issues like overflowing septic tanks and unsightly littering, due to a small minority who are less than scrupulous about keeping New Zealand beautiful.
While freedom camping is a much loved part of the New Zealand holiday tradition, motorhome vacationers need to make sure that this amazing privilege isn’t abused. Phil Wright, General Manager of Motorhome Republic stressed the importance of leaving no trace as a traveller in New Zealand and beyond. “As tourism numbers continue to grow globally, it is in everybody’s best interest that we minimise the impact our visitation causes on the local environment. In the short term it reduces friction between the local communities and visitors. In the long term, responsible tourism is about ensuring there are places worth visiting for future generations. It’s important that everyone takes ownership of their global footprint.”
According to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, about 2% of visitors to New Zealand try out the freedom camping lifestyle, with a major increase in numbers over the 2000’s. In spite of recent headlines about poor behaviour from a handful of freedom campers, it’s really not that hard to stay on the right side of the law when it comes to this fun and flexible mode of travel. Checking up on where freedom camping is permitted before you pick up a campervan hire in NZ will set you on the straight and narrow, and opting for a self-contained motorhome will increase the amount of places that you can legally freedom camp while making it much easier to leave the site just as you found it.
The jury is still out on the future of freedom camping in NZ, but with just a little care you can ensure that your next Kiwi motorhome holiday contributes to keeping this treasured tradition alive for generations to come.