Government Bill to stamp down on irresponsible freedom camping

by Kim Bowden - Aug 25, 2022

The Government is set to get tougher on irresponsible freedom campers placing an unfair burden on host communities.

The Self-contained Motor Vehicle Legislation Bill has been introduced and includes new steps to address the environmental and social impact of vehicle camping.

In a statement announcing the Bill, Tourism Minister Stuart Nash says it will create a "robust regulatory system that central and local government can rely on to manage freedom camping".

It's about ensuring the sustainability of freedom camping and that it's done in a way that shows respect for an area and the people who live there, the minister says.

“Through the process of this work we’ve heard a lot of stories about how those who abuse the Freedom Camping rules place an unfair burden on small communities and damage our reputation as a high-quality visitor destination.

“Freedom campers who follow the rules are welcome in New Zealand, with many spending money in local communities, working in seasonal jobs and volunteering."

The Government is advocating for a fresh approach to tourism - one that is regenerative, giving back more to people and places than it takes, he says.

"We want visitors to New Zealand to enrich our communities and help protect our environment."

The Bill proposes that vehicle-based freedom campers will need to be in a certified self-contained vehicle to stay overnight on land managed by local councils, unless the council has designated the area as suitable for non-certified vehicles.

It also requires that self-contained vehicles have a fixed toilet and introduces a stronger infringement system - there will be penalties of up to $1,000, up from the current $200 fee.

The new rules can also be extended to cover land managed by NZTA and LINZ.

The Self-contained Motor Vehicle Legislation Bill will now go through the parliamentary process, including select committee hearings on public submissions on the proposed legislation. 

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