New freedom camping laws to clamp down on non-fixed toilets

New freedom camping laws to clamp down on non-fixed toilets

New freedom camping rules have been drafted to combat motorhomes which the ministry sees as damaging New Zealand’s image.

After a year of public consultation, the Ministry of Tourism wants to set higher standards on vehicles with self-contained toilets, banning uncertified vehicles from camping on public land.

“At the heart of the new law will be greater respect for the environment and communities through a ‘right vehicle, right place’ approach,” said Minister Nash.

Under the new legislation vehicles without fixed toilets will no longer be certified as ‘self contained’.

Vehicles will have to be approved by the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board to qualify, and only these vehicles will be able to stay overnight on land.

These measures are to curb “abuse of freedom camping” by domestic and international tourists once the borders re-open, said the minister.

Previous low-cost solutions such as portable chemical toilets have allowed camper conversions to be certified as self contained. However the Nash says that higher standards and higher penalties on those breaking them will prevent problem campers.

Past offenses reported by local authorities include parking on front lawns, disposal of human waste and fake ‘self contained’ stickers on campervans.

Non-contained vehicles will still be able to stay overnight at DoC campsites. Freedom campers can also continue to stay overnight in tents, where permitted.

However it is the non-certified campervans and conversions that the ministry is cracking down on, should these laws pass.

“The Government has committed $10 million in transitional funding to support local councils to educate freedom campers and develop local bylaws over two years,”

Nash said that tougher laws on the type of vehicle able to freedom camp would benefit other parts of the budget travel industry such as backpackers, who had been suffering the lack of international visitors.

“Hostels and campgrounds are perfect for the budget-conscious traveller who may have considered freedom camping in the past,” said Nash.

After unveiling the proposed freedom camping laws, the minister stated that they were not designed as a ‘campervan ban’.

“Backpackers in budget vehicles are welcome,” he said, providing they respect the environment and communities in which they camp.

“Abuse of freedom camping by domestic and international travellers not only damages our 100% Pure brand, it erodes public support for tourism and undermines its social licence to operate.”

Proposed freedom camper laws

· 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 for non-certified vehicles.
· Freedom campers will be able to stay on Department of Conservation (DoC) land in vehicles that are not self-contained, unless DoC has formally restricted or prohibited camping in such vehicles.
· Freedom campers can continue to stay overnight in tents, where permitted.
· The infringement system will be strengthened with tougher fines and penalties of up to $1000, replacing the current $200 fine.
· A new regulatory system to enable vehicles to be certified as self-contained. To be certified as self-contained, a vehicle will need a fixed toilet.
· Certification will be overseen by agents authorised by the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board.
· The new rules can also be extended to cover land managed by Waka Kotahi-NZTA, and Toitū Te Whenua-Land Information NZ.

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