Working group to develop solutions to freedom camping

Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis has announced the establishment of a working group to develop solutions to freedom camping issues.

This morning Mr Davis met with 32 mayors and deputy mayors from across the country about freedom camping.

“The meeting was very productive and I want to thank the mayors and deputy mayors for sharing their views and experiences. It was really valuable. The issues with freedom camping are not insurmountable and there is a clear willingness from everyone to work together and find solutions.

“Freedom camping is a complex area. Freedom campers bring economic benefits to our regions, but the behaviour of a small percentage and the sheer increase in volume of freedom campers is causing real problems for some councils.

“The mayors talked about the need for a more consistent approach, including around enforcement and signage, more infrastructure needed in some areas, and the need to look at the Freedom Camping Act. 

“The mayors fully supported the establishment of a working group – made up of central and local government, the tourism industry, and other stakeholders – to discuss and work through the issues. 

“I am keen to get the working group established as quickly as possible. We need to come up with some solutions in time for the next summer peak season. Other issues, such as looking at the Freedom Camping Act, will take more time.” 

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta has welcomed the establishment of the working group.  

“This is a significant issue for many local authorities who face significant stress and challenges to respond to seasonal influx of freedom camping.

“The Government recognises that tourism is an important industry – it’s our biggest export earner – but it’s also important that councils have the necessary tools and powers to respond when their communities are feeling the impact of high visitor numbers. 

“Collaboration is key in this situation and it’s great to see central and local government are committed to working together, with the tourism industry and other stakeholders.”

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, in consultation with other agencies, will develop a terms of reference for the working group.


Additional information:  

Over the last two years, international visitors who did some freedom camping spent an average of around $4,700 and stayed around 51 days in New Zealand, compared with the average for all visitors of $3,200 and 18 days. 

Over the last three years, international visitors who did some freedom camping spent an average of around $526 million a year in New Zealand. 

Over the past ten years, the number of international visitors doing at least some freedom camping during their stay has risen from around 30,000 to 115,000 annually.

In December the Government announced $14 million funding for 32 infrastructure projects through the Tourism Infrastructure Fund. The next $10 million round of the fund will be launched soon.  

Mayors were invited from Buller District, Central Otago District, Christchurch City, Clutha District, Dunedin City, Far North District, Gisborne District, Grey District, Hauraki District, Hurunui District, Kaikōura District, Mackenzie District, Marlborough District, Napier City, Nelson City, New Plymouth District, Queenstown Lakes District, Rotorua Lake District, Ruapehu District, Selwyn District, Southland District, Tasman District, Taupō District, Timaru District, Wairoa District, Waitaki District, Waitomo District, Wellington City, Western Bay of Plenty District, Whanganui District, Whakatanē District, and Whangarei District.