Planned new legislation covering freedom camping has the support of the tourism industry and is backed by the New Zealand Freedom Camping Forum.
The new laws announced by Environment Minister Nick Smith will help promote responsible camping practices to both New Zealanders and international visitors, Forum chairman and Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA) Advocacy Manager Geoff Ensor says.
“The Forum has been working closely with local government to develop these laws, which will help councils to better manage freedom camping in their areas,” Mr Ensor says.
“It is important to highlight that nearly all commercial campervan companies in New Zealand are members of the Forum and fully support its efforts. They are showing real leadership in encouraging their clients to camp responsibly and educating them about acceptable behaviour in New Zealand. Travellers want good information and companies are providing it.”
In addition, Escape Rentals, Jucy Rentals, KEA Campers, Pacific Horizon Campervans, Spaceships, thl and United Campervans were among the organisations which gave financial backing to the development of the Forum’s current educational campaign.
Since it was established in 2007, the Forum has worked hard to educate freedom campers about the camping behaviour that is expected in New Zealand. This currently centres on the ‘Where can I camp?’ campaign, which encourages campers to stay at holiday parks, Department of Conservation camp sites or other designated camping areas.
A website www.camping.org.nz has also been developed to provide detailed camping information, and Lonely Planet, Rough Guides, and Cook Strait ferry operators Interislander and Bluebridge have also shown support in spreading the message.
“There will always be some travellers who prefer to freedom camp and we do not want the practice to be prohibited. However, it was always accepted that some degree of enforcement would be required to control unacceptable camping behaviour,” Mr Ensor says.
It is clear that many of the problems are being caused by people who buy cheap vehicles for a short period and use them for camping, Mr Ensor says. The Forum is now looking at ways to educate those camping in privately owned vehicles.
The New Zealand Freedom Camping Forum was convened by TIA in December 2007 in response to concerns about the impacts of freedom camping in some regions. Membership includes representatives from rental vehicle operators, local government, tourism organisations and central government. For more information, visit www.tianz.org.nz/main/nz-freedom-camping-forum