Topic: Politics

Changes for Freedom Camping on the horizon

By Mānia Clarke

The Tourism Minister will look to review Freedom Camper legislation among other things to address freedom camping issues. Kelvin Davis made the announcement following a meeting with 32 of the country's mayors and deputy mayors on how they and government agencies can collaborate to fix concerns that have been highlighted by councils and communities.

Within the next month, a working party will be formed which will include mayors and all stakeholders to further discuss how they will address issues related to freedom campers.

Davis says talks with council leaders were positive, but there's plenty of work ahead.

“There's issues around the Freedom Camping Act itself, whether it needs to be looked at, whether it's still fit for purpose,” he said.

“There's a bit of overlap with a couple of other acts as well that we need to look into. Infrastructure is an issue. Consistency of messaging around education, signage.”

The Mayor of Gisborne, among others, says today's meeting was important to allow them to air their concerns before the Minister.

“We are experiencing problems with tourists travelling in campervans,” said Meng Foon.

“Some campervans don't have toilets. So they defecate on our land. They don't have rubbish storage so they leave their rubbish behind.”

Tourism is one of the country's biggest earners of which freedom campers make a significant contribution. One option was a call for a name change to help remove any stigma.

“Another thing the wanted to is for us to stop using the word Freedom Camping and stop making out like it's just a free lunch, that we want to start referring to Responsible Camping,” said Davis.         

Local government officials have been asked to identify relevant stakeholder groups and select members of the Working Party at an upcoming symposium.

Any decisions particularly legislative changes may take up to 18 months to implement.