Freedom camping working group announced

Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis today announced the members of the working group that will develop solutions to freedom camping issues. 

The working group was announced in March following a meeting between Mr Davis and 32 mayors and deputy mayors from across the country.

“The issues around freedom camping are complex and require a well-considered response. What works for one council and community doesn’t necessarily work for others. The mayors called for a working group to properly look at the issues and I fully support that,” Mr Davis says. 

“The working group will provide me with recommendations for improving the way we manage freedom camping in New Zealand and will be made up of nine people from across local government, industry and key central government agencies. 

“I expect the working group’s recommendations to cover practical actions we can take to support councils ahead of the 2018/19 peak season, as well as any policy or regulatory changes to the freedom camping system that might be required over the longer term.”

The local government representatives, nominated by Local Government New Zealand, are Rotorua District Mayor Steve Chadwick, Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult, Central Otago District Mayor Tim Cadogan, and Christchurch City Deputy Mayor Andrew Turner, three of whom will be on the working group at any one time.   

The tourism industry and campers are represented by Chris Roberts of Tourism Industry Aotearoa, Grant Webster of Tourism Holdings Limited and Bruce Lochore of the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association.

The three government agencies most involved with freedom camping will be able to advise on the policy development front. These agencies are the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), which is in charge of tourism policy, the Department of Internal Affairs, which has a role in administering the Freedom Camping Act 2011, and the Department of Conservation, whose land is covered by the Act.

Mr Davis has released the terms of reference outlining the scope and expectations for the group.

“The goal is to address challenges around the impact of freedom camping on local communities and the environment, while at the same time enabling individual communities to take advantage of the opportunities freedom camping presents.

“As a first step the group will need to have a good look at the place of freedom camping in New Zealand’s tourism and recreation offering, taking into account all the different types of Kiwis and international visitors who use this method of travel – backpackers, trampers, retirees, recreationalists such as surfers and hunters, and so on. This information will need to form the basis for all of the group’s recommendations.”

The working group is expected to have their first meeting by 4 May 2018 and to report to Mr Davis by no later than 31 July 2018 with an outline of their planned work programme and any progress made up to that point.

The full Terms of Reference are available at: