Editorial Camping

Editorial

Careless Campers Vs Communities

December 27 2018 by Justine Farquharson

While some legitimately use freedom camping to enjoy New Zealand’s natural environment, there are others who take advantage. It’s time we have an honest conversation about the ‘Careless campers’. Careless campers believe there is no need to pre-book accommodation. New Zealand’s special spots have been tainted by careless campers washing themselves, dishes and clothes in our waterways. Using the bush and rest areas as open-air toilets, and leaving behind rubbish for the community to pick up and dispose of.

I wonder how they came to believe that this was an option and who is promoting or, more accurately, pimping out New Zealand to the careless camper. Why are we, as a country and community making a commitment to the careless camper, by providing more free facilities for their exclusive use? Who is gaining financially from the careless camper and who foots the bill to ‘host’ them? Our petition launched last summer to change freedom camping regulations gained more than 15,000 signatures from all over the country. It’s very clear that we are fed up with New Zealand being pimped out and it is affecting visitor experience as much as our sense of home. A group of us have since investigated the Freedom Camping Act 2011, talked to local and national government, and talked to campers and camping organisations.

The petition from last summer wasn’t enough. If there is change, it’s incremental. More action is required. It’s time to turn our values into a strong vision for our country and what we want it to be in the future for both visitors and especially those who live here. The quantity over quality scenario, where we encourage as many people as we can to visit New Zealand, is damaging! We value our country and its residents and gladly welcome travellers who are not taxing on our environment and our way of life. But the cost of welcoming too many travellers, and the unbridled growth and promotion of New Zealand as a destination for camping and self-drive holidays, seems to cost the communities and other visitors their enjoyment of our green spaces and puts pressure on our environment and infrastructure.

We are coming up to that season again where we also know that safety on our roads is an issue. I truly believe that we are making progress – but it’s too slow. All New Zealanders must continue to actively encourage and apply pressure on local and central government to solve our ‘Careless Camper’ issues. We have a lot of smart people with solutions. Let’s be heard as a community and refuse to accept being overrun, yet again, by that select group of people who don’t know or care to do better.

- Justine Farquharson
Comments
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  • Jo

    Thanks very well put. Let’s get this under control, I spotted people sleeping under the large rock in queenstown gardens this morning

    Posted 29/12/2018 1:42pm (3 months ago)

  • Matt

    """New Zealand’s special spots have been tainted by careless campers washing themselves, dishes and clothes in our waterways. Using the bush and rest areas as open-air toilets, and leaving behind rubbish for the community to pick up and dispose of."""

    You should see how much crap i see left behind by 4WD'ers when i go hiking. Many of these guys don't care either, but we don't talk about them. Ever been to Mavora Lakes or and backcountry 4WD track with huts? It's a pigsty of beer bottles, caps and bits of junk from trucks. Not to mention the shear erosion it causes.

    I know there are dirty campers out there. However, it's the minority. I've only seen one bag of rubbish left this year and i've been camping for 4 months of it. Most are very respectful and do the right thing.

    You fail to mention locals having picnics too, or just lunch goers. These people also make a lot of mess and go to the toilet. Lets ignore them too though right?

    """Why are we, as a country and community making a commitment to the careless camper, by providing more free facilities for their exclusive use? Who is gaining financially from the careless camper and who foots the bill to ‘host’ them? """

    Because these people are travelling NZ and still giving to the economy, even if small amounts per day. Most budget travellers are here long term and provide small amounts of money across the entire country.

    Rich travellers tend to stay between 1-3 weeks and provide large quantities of money to the ALREADY rich companies and never spend money in smaller off-the-beaten-path towns.

    No one is asking for the community to provide facilities to freedom camp. The issue comes from the lack of education and the overly strict rules and limitations, forcing budget travellers to waive as many fees as they can to enjoy their travels in NZ.

    Why is it that some communities (Lumsden, Ahaura, etc) openly embrace providing campers with free (or cheap) options? Because it draws people to their small towns and provides money.

    Ok, so Queenstown thrives already without budget travellers. So what... QT is too good for them? Why not treat people as equals and get over badmouthing people who are enjoying the sights of NZ. Budget travellers are important for NZ because they DON'T need the infrastructure that the rich travellers need. Keep supporting the rich, and NZ will just be a nature disneyland...


    Posted 29/12/2018 11:53pm (3 months ago)

  • Free New Zealand


    The situation with Freedom Campers is that its a zero sum game. The more we do to assist them the more will come. What other country provides such a free ride to overseas Freedom Campers"" as New Zealand currently does or intends to do?

    The reality is you have a large group of people travelling around the countryside as cheaply as possible and using their new found love of nature etc as an excuse to freeload of New Zealand tax and ratepayers.
    They thumb their nose at us by attempting to sneak into holiday parks,library's,local swimming pools,community centers and other facilities to undertake their ablutions and to park overnight where it suits them without regard to rights of others..
    . You simply have to note the large amount of human and consumer waste they leave lying around were they have camped,often illegally, the large percentage of those leaving our country and not paying their illegal camping fines,to show what a regard they have of us and our slowly disappearing beautiful country.

    Apparently the average freedom camper brings in about $4000.00 to enjoy a three month holiday. If you subtract the cost of a vehicle(which they sell and take the funds with them when they leave)the cost of fuel, 3 minute noodles, happy backy. It appears the rest they help themselves to, while disregarding the privacy and rights of ordinary New Zealanders while happily being subsided by them.

    Posted 03/01/2019 9:32am (3 months ago)

  • Your Name Here

    No amount of laws and regulations will ever work if there’s no enforcement.
    Take the alcohol ban for instance and see how that worked out...
    And that’s what Queenstown is turning into a Wild West town with no sheriff to uphold the law. From traffic violations to abusive rentals to freedom campers - it all comes back to the lack of enforcement and believe me it will get MUCH worse until the council have the balls to do something about it...

    Posted 03/01/2019 1:50pm (3 months ago)