Freedom camping friction

There is growing friction over freedom camping, with mayors from around the country meeting to discuss associated problems – they have set up a working party to look at how to deal with it.

Many public places have been designated for free camping sites, but councils are left dealing with the rubbish, and are being pressured into supplying toilet and other facilities – these are the sort of things that commercial and DOC camping grounds provide for a fee.

RNZ reports Govt considering freedom camping shake up

It’s not just a “free lunch” for tourists as politicians get responsible around camping.

Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis met with mayors from around the country this morning in Wellington to discuss freedom camping and has announced a working party on the issue.

It will look at existing tourism infrastructure, the laws governing freedom camping and weigh up whether to introduce user pays at the facilities they use.

Mr Davis said New Zealand may need country-wide policies to govern freedom camping.

“We want to find consistency and make sure that visitors, when they do arrive, they know what is expected in New Zealand, they understand what is appropriate and inappropriate.

“And make sure that they have a great experience while our communities don’t bear the brunt of them,” Mr Davis said.

Central and local government want people to stop using the term, he said.

“Another thing they wanted too is for us to stop using the term freedom camping and stop making out like it’s just a free lunch – we want to start referring to responsible camping.”

I don’t think tourists should expect to be provided with facilities for free, but the ‘freedom camping’ thing has effectively been enabled and encouraged by councils.

Government figures show about 80,000 international visitors do some freedom camping while in New Zealand each year, about 2 percent of the total number of international tourists.

That’s quite a lot of freeloaders who leave others to clean up after them.

It’s a popular way to travel, but seeing how crammed in their vehicles can be in designated areas makes me wonder how much fun it is.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment estimates these tourists spend about $380 million a year.

There’s GST and business in that, but other tourists who pay for accommodation including camping ground facilities pay their way plus pay GST.

But the president of Local Government New Zealand, Dave Cull, said freedom campers were a problem for a vast number of cities throughout New Zealand.

“I think it is clear that the areas like Queenstown Lakes, McKenzie, Rotorua – places where there’s obviously a lot of tourists – the sheer volume of so-called freedom camping is just putting a strain on the environment and on the financial resources of ratepayers.”

Funny he didn’t mention his own city. There’s a lot of grumping about it here in Dunedin too.


  1. PDB

     /  March 9, 2018

    “The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment estimates these tourists spend about $380 million a year.”

    This is a bullshit stat – as shown here:

    The sample includes: “the number of visitors who freedom camped at least once in their visit to New Zealand.” . At least one night sleeping rough is hardly what I’d call a ‘freedom camper’. More than likely these people would have come to NZ regardless of freedom camping laws.

    People who mainly freedom camp is a much lower figure;

    “The graph below shows the annual number of visitors for whom freedom camping was their main form of accommodation and their total spend.The number of visitors peaked in 2011 likely related to New Zealand hosting the Rugby World Cup. Excluding 2011, the number of visitors averaged around 15,000 since 2010. Total spend for this group is very volatile, averaging around 50 million since 2010.”

  2. David

     /  March 9, 2018

    Good to see Labour are going to have an inquiry. This do nothing government is growing on me all the time, they were screaming in opposition for facilities to be built and blah blah blah and now in power they are literally frozen in the headlights incapable of doing anything..except signing the TPPA, chucking cash at the Islands and doing a spot of fishing.

  3. NOEL

     /  March 9, 2018

    The elephant in the room is all those Australian owned hire vans without self containment.
    Using previous councils precedence, where the majority of dog owners benefit little from the registration charge because the funds are used to clean up the mess of the irresponsible, all registered campers including the those with no containment should be taxed a levy to mitigate for those in their community who don’t give a toss.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  March 9, 2018

      It wouldn’t be too diificult to pass a law that all campervans had to have a dunny, even a little portable one. These are not expensive.

  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  March 9, 2018

    I don’t see much of a problem with freedom campers around Russell. We have two good camps for them to use and maybe the cost of the ferry trip deters the free-loaders. Paihia probably suffers a lot more with them trying to park overnight along the foreshore.

    It’s poor driving skills and manners that upset our locals. Don’t tell us that NZers are bad drivers after some of the tourists we get here.

    One of our local retailers was telling me how she spent the entire day with American cruise ship customers querying her about ingredients and their sources for her products. Too much time on their hands driving her potty with their neuroses.

    • Joe Bloggs

       /  March 9, 2018

      “telling me how she spent the entire day with American cruise ship customers querying her about ingredients and their sources for her products”

      Damn – how bad is that! Potential customers showing an interest in her products! God rot their souls!

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  March 9, 2018

        Probably Progressives, Joe. Worrying about their delicate constitutions.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  March 9, 2018

          Why don’t they just read the labels like anyone else instead of being so damned pwecious ? I don’t waste my time and the shopkeepers by asking this, I look at what the label says. The retailer probably knows little more, anyway.

    • Pickled Possum

       /  March 9, 2018

      Hiya Al Happy to say the centipide that gave me the willies is contained in a safe place outside.

      In Kawakawa the car park is designated for 4 freedom campers a night and over the tourist visiting months there has been an average of 20 a night.
      With plans firing ahead for getting the 20 to be made legal, the business people want them to stay the more the merrier … say they bring lots of moola to the town.

      The older NZ RV crew are on the move … school hols over … so more room to move without those pesky kids. It’s really not these people find I find anoying. They are our old peeps, paid their tax, saved for the Holiday … go see the place they lived when they were young … go see the Cape.
      It’s the older pesky kids from Europe doing a gap year holiday slash work trip around our beautiful country, picking the fruit etc … who park up in a car park and hang their washing on a line from their van to the CABBAGE tree.
      They then hold up the toilet queue … the one with hot water … washing their dishes. Really!!!!!
      Then because the rubbish bins are FULL they leave their rubbish on the ground … heaped in piles around the vicinity of the bin.
      I did come across a french couple who erected their dining table in the middle of the foot path with candels wine and good food, cooked next to their table. Typicaly when I suggested they move onto the grass so the young people I was with Didn’t have to step onto the Road to get round them … they speaka no english.or pigeon maori for that matter..
      The Queen of France was strong in that one.
      These young adventures of the ‘couldn’t give a flying fuck era’ skite how cheaply they get around our country saving their hard earned cash for fine wine food and sometimes our woman.
      More Camper Parks needed with Bigger Bins to be designated round our whenua. And police this hard …
      Fine them … Smack the CGAFF kids in their wallets … they will soon tell their friends back home.
      When in Rome …..

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  March 9, 2018

        Yes, there was a young couple like that caught the other day thieving free fruit for kids at Countdown over this way, my wife said. A night in the cells might improve their behaviour.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  March 9, 2018

          French people who didn’t speak English in this century ? Wouldn’t more like.

          It’s pidgin, not pigeon, for a language, but these ones sound like birdbrains with that Gallic je-m’en-fouserie.

          If I HAD to leave rubbish beside a bin, I would put it in a bag first. Dirty buggers.

  5. PartisanZ

     /  March 9, 2018

    “enabled and encouraged by councils” is right … All tourism MUST be good tourism … Like all large international sporting events must be the one that’s gonna “put New Zealand on the map” …

    Commercial and DoC camping grounds don’t provide “toilet and other facilities” for free. Commercial one’s are user pays. DoC camp grounds are paid for by the taxpayer.

    Along with having existing infrastructure, DoC option at least spreads the burden across all taxpayers, as opposed to only ratepayers paying for local Council designated Freedom Camping areas, which are often grossly over-used.

    The provision of sites, like lanes on a motorway, will never keep up with the numbers of ‘users’ … with DEMAND …

    Now that it’s been “enabled”, Freedom Camping is almost impossible to police.

    In the little town where I live they park wherever they like, sometimes on a public green, sometimes frightening or otherwise affecting elderly neighbours – eg noise, drinking & tobacco smoke – and can regularly be found having ‘brekky’, doing their morning ablutions or hanging their washing in front of our War Memorial …

    In the immediate vicinity there’s at least five different Camper Parks where they can park up for the night for $10 – $15 …

    Ironically, so-called ‘Freedom Camping’ is the epitome of a neoliberal “race to the bottom”.

    • PDB

       /  March 9, 2018

      “Ironically, so-called ‘Freedom Camping’ is the epitome of a neoliberal “race to the bottom”.’

      People wanting something for nothing by bludging off taxpayers/ ratepayers…..sounds more like the left wing’s voter base.

      • High Flying Duck

         /  March 9, 2018

        Have you not learned Pants – EVERYTHING is a neoliberal “race to the bottom” to Parti.

        • PartisanZ

           /  March 9, 2018

          That’s just not true HFD, although I admit a lot of things are …

          You’d surely have to agree that a major aspect of neoliberalism has been cost-cutting?

          To follow just the tourism analogy, cheaper airfares on aeroplanes – possibly operating on less maintenance – flown by lower-paid pilots and aircrew, staffed by lower-paid stewards and stewardesses providing less service …

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  March 9, 2018

            Mark Vette trained dogs to fly planes so well that they were able to do a perfect figure 8 in the sky. They would happy to work for food, I suspect (mine would)

            • PartisanZ

               /  March 9, 2018

              Well … no way we can complain about our ‘Animal Farm’ world now is there?

  6. Conspiratoor

     /  March 9, 2018

    Just pulled into rays rest, backed the mighty britz campa down to the beach. Filling up fast with a multinational congregation. I’m off to kowtow with my Chinese neighbours, a little schadenfreud with the Huns on the other side and some parlez and Beaujolais with the frogs and their rat dog down the end.

    Ain’t unchecked tourism with no infrastructure support wonderful

    Pic to follow