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The big picture on the proposed changes for freedom camping

Miriam Richardson

The stated intention of Hon Stuart Nash, Minister of Tourism, is to “improve the regime for freedom camping, to protect our environment, remove unfair burdens on locals in some destinations, and lift the quality of tourism.”

What does he think the problem is? 

  • poor behaviour, waste and litter, and overcrowding by freedom campers; 

  • lack of infrastructure and systems to support freedom camping; 

  • too many tourists choosing to freedom camp; 

  • high costs to local communities; 

  • reduced willingness of local communities to welcome freedom campers. 

What changes has he put into his bill? 

A: A blanket limit on vehicle-based freedom camping on public land to certified self-contained vehicles only. (Solves none of the above) 

B: A ‘fixed’ toilet is required for a vehicle to be self contained. (Solves none of the above) 

C: More powers and tougher penalties to enforce the rules. (Might discourage tourists; might reduce poor behaviour; might make locals feel better. Then again, might not.) 

D: A national register of self-contained vehicles and a revised system for certification, to prove who is or isnt self contained. (Solves none of the above but will help the enforcers.) 

AND/BUT: The changes aren’t intended to affect camping more than 200m from a road, nor homeless people. 

When might the changes affect everyone? 

It will immediately restricts camping in the 50% of NZ regions that do not already have freedom camping bylaws. 

Every camper will be affected,  2 years after it is passed by Parliament. 

What the bill does not address: 

  • Lack of supporting infrastructure like rubbish disposal and toilets; 

  • lack of enough space for the visitors who arrive; 

  • ‘too many’ tourists; 

  • poor behaviour; 

  • high cost to local communities.

BY: Miriam Richardson

1 Spring 2022

Immediately restricts camping in over 50% of NZ's regions

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