For both Kiwis and visitors from overseas, ‘freedom camping’ is an extremely popular way of getting around the country on a budget.
It is the practice of parking a campervan or pitching a tent in an area not designated for camping.
While it does essentially make the space free, it is simply not allowed and should not be undertaken.
The problem with freedom camping in New Zealand is facilities driven. Specifically, bathroom facilities.
Camp grounds charge a low fee to be able to park your New Zealand campervan rental in a designated space where you can use their bathroom and kitchen facilities.
Not only is this the legitimate way of taking a campervan around the country, you’ll get to meet plenty more people who are doing the same thing.
The alternative has been the topic of debate in the country for several years, as campers are often caught simply using the wilderness around them wherever they stop as their own bathroom.
While it’s easy for visitors to an area to cruise in and out again this way, locals living near these areas are tired of cleaning up the rubbish – and worse – left behind.
In some areas, like Central Otago, it is illegal to camp outside of a camping area unless you have on-board facilities, but the rules differ between regions.
Infringement notices and fines are often what can await visitors who are found breaking these rules.
New Zealand prides itself on its ‘clean green’ image, with its tourism slogan as ‘100% Pure’, so while the country relies on tourism as part of the national economy, freedom campers are not so warmly welcomed.
Kiwis are raised with the mantra: “Take only photographs, leave only footprints”, and visitors are encouraged to do the same.