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RE: We “freedom camp”

February 3 2020

I have the opposite perspective to the writer, we “freedom camp”. New Zealand Citizens, have a certified CSC motorhome and also belong to a club and pay fees. We also often pick up rubbish left by others at camp spots. The only time I have caught someone defecation it was a local in a car. “Camping” happened long before there were any more organized Council designated, paid Camps. Paid camps came about because some people worked out that they could make money out of it. I intensely dislike the test “freedom camping”, it gives non-campers a label to group all people camping outside of paid camps into a group and vilify them, both responsible and irresponsible people, tourists and NZ citizens, and creates unfair hatred for them. We have seen this kind of behavior (vilification) before in this world and have seem the results, There have already been “freedom campers” killed, possibly through this, we don’t really know the true motives. If this was not the motive in these cases it is still a danger that a climate is created in which campers who have done nothing wrong are hated. If you doubt this, look at comments on politicians FB pages when they say something about it! Human Rights and the 2011 freedom camping act give anyone the right to camp on any public land. It also gives councils the right to restrict camping in spots they can designate for very limited reasons. If they do this, they are required by law to post a sign explaining this at that spot. Councils designating places for freedom camping is helpful and greatly appreciated, but they can’t limit it to these places by law. The people making the disgusting mess at these places are irresponsible! They will do this if they camping or not, tourists and citizens.

To be more correct, call them “Irresponsible people who are camping”.

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  • Matthew Cowell

    I completely agree.

    I have been arguing your exact points all the time. Especially the point about the term 'freedom campers' as being a vilification label. I've met loads of NZ locals who bad mouth anyone who travels in NZ 'freedom camping', and it's obvious the label has just turned sour.

    I've seen some people ruining it for everyone, but they are really few and far between. Mostly a few shitty regular tourists, shitty locals and shitty local 4WDers here and there leaving mess, or neglecting rules.

    BUT almost everyone i meet is really just trying to do their best. Unfortunately, these bad mouthing locals have shut down entire areas of public land, allowing councils to act and remove privilege from anyone seeking to use them for staying overnight.

    There IS a ratepayers issue, and i understand this argument, but these campers DO bring money to communities willing to support them. People will pay money when they feel they are being cared for and helped out - sometimes a donations box can go a long way, or services/stores to suit travellers. As for remote freedom camping - let people do it. I've barely come across toilet waste in NZ in general with extensive travelling. The biggest problem is garbage waste, but this is only a major problem because councils limit disposal (look at Queenstown for example!). Where do we get this money? It's a problem, but shunning freedom campers and blaming them isn't the answer and a 'forward looking' solution.

    Posted 05/02/2020 11:13am (2 months ago)