NZ$200 fine for Freedom Camping
The New Zealand government is currently discussing an instant fine for Freedom Camping to cut down on irresponsible and disrespectful behaviours.
At the same time as this could help keep New Zealand cleaner it will leave a bad aftertaste with visitors traveling by campervan hire.
If you are unsure what Freedom Camping is - read our "Where to Camp" Blog Post.
Here is our letter to Dr Nick Smith, who came up with this NZ$200 instant fine solution.
Dear Dr Smith,
Putting a fine on Freedom Camping might seem like the only way to tidy up irresponsible campers. However, we think a more careful and thoughtful approach is required.
Freedom Camping is a popular way to enjoy New Zealand's wilderness and beauty. A large number of Kiwis and tourists do it every year.
It is essential to educate people of their responsibilities and all prohibited areas. A $200 fine is then completely justified if people step outside the set boundaries.
But maybe we should approach the problem completely different.
People have a right to habitat any public place by day – what changes this in the hours of darkness?
How about supporting Freedom Camping and promoting it as a unique NZ experience?
Hundreds of public areas and car parks with toilet facilities sit vacant during nighttime. How about putting more thought into developing a Freedom Camping Pass which allows holders to park in designated areas for a set time frame. (i.e. from 8pm to 8am)
Build a tight network over all regions, sign post it and promote it – after all, it may pay for itself and encourage a positive experience.
The price for such a Freedom Camping Pass must be reasonable. It could be introduced as a fixed cost when renting a campervan and private vehicle owners could purchase a pass via alternative means.
The enforcement officers and cleaning staff are already in place. Instead of aggressively waking “illegal” campers and hitting them with a fine – their job could involve checking passes and correct rubbish disposal.
The key here is to encourage the use of current facilities and infrastructure by responsible people during hours when these facilities sit idle.
An instant fine for unlawful rubbish disposal and disrespect is still necessary and can be carried out by current enforcement officers.
Camping tourism should be encouraged to continue but with definite rules and infrastructure in place.
An aggressive enforcement against freedom camping is only detrimental to a holiday maker's experience.
We appreciate your time and consideration on this matter.
Birgit Gigi Huber & John Heasley
What are your thoughts on this?