Freedom camping in New Zealand

After two young German travellers were attacked in their tent in New Zealand a few days ago I thought it was timely to repost this.

When travelling in any country, always use the same care you would do at home. Would you camp in your town centre? IF yes, then do so in other places: if you wouldn’t don’t.

This brutal attack of teenagers by teenagers is a warning we are not safe anywhere and need to be prudent.

My best wishes to a quick recovery, and I’m happy the police were able to arrest the offenders very quickly.  Read more about camping/ tenting campervanning here in New Zealand

Freedom camping in New Zealand.

Freedom camping in New Zealand

Each district in New Zealand has different rules about freedom camping and parking of campervans. Sometime places it’s permitted, and in others  it will result in a fine and you being moved on.

The best place to find information about where you can camp and what rules to follow is from those who know the area. Ask locals for information:

  • i-SITEs
  • Holiday Parks
  • Department of Conservation  (DOC) Visitor Centres and offices

The impact of freedom camping on our environment, as well as safety concerns, means Tourism New Zealand does not recommend freedom camping in New Zealand. Use the camping grounds unless you are in a fully equipped campervan with its own toilet.

Note: these on-board toilets can only be legally emptied from motorhomes into Dump Stations, which are normally found in holiday parks: these are free to use even if you’re not staying in that camping ground. See more tips  here about travelling in a campervan – Loved my time in the Backpacker van I travelled in recently.

freedom campers in new zealand

Freedom campers asked to assume nothing

2010 NOTE: you can, and likely will be, be given an instant fine for parking in places specifically marked “no overnight camping”  Camping includes – campervans, caravans, mobile homes, tent etc.

16 Sep 2009 New Zealand’s wide open spaces and unique environment provide a mecca for freedom campers but tourists are being advised to check with the locals before pitching a tent or parking their campervan.

“Assume nothing – always ask a local” is the message being touted by authorities keen to tidy up the presumption that anyone can camp anywhere in New Zealand.

In a united campaign, holidaymakers are being encouraged to check with i-SITEs, the Department of Conservation (DOC) Visitor Centres and Holiday Parks for local camping information to minimise any negative impacts.

And a recently launched website ‘camping our way, love NZ’ has become a one stop shop for campers seeking information on eco-wise practices, keeping safe, facilities, regional camping, what to do and where to stay in New Zealand.

Freedom camping
Freedom camping has become a popular way to enjoy New Zealand and sums up the practice of camping away from recognised camp sites.

It includes holidaymakers camping in caravans, buses, cars, tents or campervans and staying over in rest areas or reserves, at beaches, in car parks or at the side of the road.

While there are no statistics available to cover the number of people who freedom camp, it is recognised as a popular pursuit with both New Zealanders and international visitors.

Regional restrictions
Restrictions on freedom camping vary in each region. In some areas people can camp with relative freedom but in other places freedom camping is restricted to selected areas.

Each community tends to manage freedom camping in ways that are appropriate for them and many councils have bylaws to control the practice.

While freedom camping is seen as a way of bringing visitors into an area and adding value to the local economy, authorities believe it needs to be managed to care for New Zealand’s natural environment to preserve it for future generations.

Ask a local
The new “assume nothing, always ask a local” tourism initiative is the first time there has been a unified stance on how best to manage freedom camping.

Education helping campers to embrace the principle of kaitiakitanga (guardianship) and ‘camping our way’ is seen as the best way to get the message across and will be advertised at DOC visitor centres, i-SITE information centres around the country and at holiday parks.

Rental vehicle companies have also been asked to link to the ‘camping our way’ website and promote the message during their booking process.

NZ Freedom Camping Forum
The New Zealand Freedom Camping Forum (NZFCF) was formed in 2007 by the Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA) and is developing a number of initiatives to help communities better manage freedom camping in their areas.

“Freedom camping is a popular way to enjoy New Zealand and we don’t want to prohibit people from travelling that way, but we do want to minimise the negative impacts,” said TIA advocacy manager Geoff Ensor.

The message echoes New Zealand tourism industry’s guiding principle of kaitiakitanga – guardianship and sustainable management of natural, built and cultural resources for the collective benefit of current and future generations.

“New Zealand is a beautiful country. Help keep our towns, cities, parks, beaches and native bush free from pollution and waste. Please also respect our unique flora and fauna. Be active and get involved in caring for the environment. It is everyone’s responsibility,” the ‘camping our way’ website reminds visitors.

These topics may also be of interest to you

check this warning out too …

Related Links
i-SITE Visitor Information Centres
The official New Zealand information centres for travellers.
Other Sites
DOC Campsites
Camping Our Way website

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