Office of the Minister of Tourism
Office of the Minister of Local Government
Cabinet Economic Growth and Infrastructure Committee
Release of the Freedom Camping in New Zealand discussion document
The discussion document: Freedom Camping in New Zealand,
aims to start a public
discussion on the future of freedom camping in New Zealand. We seek Cabinet’s
approval to release the discussion document on or before 14 July 2017 for public
In 2011, the Freedom Camping Act (the Act) established in legislation the opportunity
for anyone to camp in public places in New Zealand. The Act empowered the
Department of Conservation and local authorities to moderate that opportunity by
prohibiting and restricting freedom camping on the land they administer and to issue
infringement offence notices for breaches. The Act balanced accessing the outdoors
and our culture of camping with the need to protect the environment and public
By 2016, tourism had grown to become New Zealand’s largest export industry.
International arrivals grew 10 per cent for the year to April 2017 (total arrivals 3.6
million). Since enacting the Freedom Camping Act international arrivals have grown by
around 30 per cent. During the same period domestic tourism also grew significantly.
During the summers of 2015/16 and 2017/18 the pressure on some communities from
freedom camping grew to problematic levels. Communities have responded by using
the Act to constrain the supply of areas accessible to freedom campers this further
exacerbated the problems in some places by concentrating campers in locations or
providing insufficient alternative options.
The context within which the Act was developed has changed with the growth of
under the Official Information Act 1982
tourism and the popularity of freedom camping as an accommodation option. There
may be a fundamental mismatch between an increasingly restrictive approach
diminishing supply of places in tourist hotspots and increasing demand for freedom
camping as an accommodation option causing community concerns.
Campervans are growing in popularity as mode of transport and accommodation
because they enab
Released le flexible itineraries with accommodation certainty that appeals to
independent travellers. These high levels of demand represent an opportunity for the
tourism sector and supporting industries. Freedom camping forms an important part
of New Zealand’s offering for these visitors.
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link to page 2
Data from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (the Ministry)
suggests that the number of international visitors freedom camping in New Zealand
has increased (Figure 1
). Averaged over the last three years, international visitors who
did some freedom camping in New Zealand spend an average of $5,000 per visitor
compared to the average of $3,300 for all visitors. Visitors who did some form of
freedom camping tended to stay much longer in New Zealand than other visitors.
International visitors who freedom camped spent about $380 million a year (based on
a three year average) (Figure 2
Figure 1: Average number of visitors who did some form of freedom camping1
Figure 2: Total spend for visitors who did some form of freedom camping
As well as international visitors, there is also a strong domestic market for freedom
camping. The New Zealand Motor Caravan Association has 44,500 member vehicles
registered and many New Zealanders enjoy freedom camping.
1 A three year average is used to describe the trend due to the smal sample in the International Visitor Survey
that freedom camp at some point during their visit.
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The government has responded to the growth in tourism by providing over $8 million
of funding for local tourism infrastructure. The $102 million Tourism Infrastructure
Fund, announced in Budget 2017 wil provide additional financial support for
communities that would struggle to fund supporting infrastructure themselves, like
toilet blocks used by freedom campers. We are also providing support to identify
effective practices for local authorities on managing freedom camping and informing
campers of the local rules.
10. The environments where local frustration has been particularly high are where locals
and freedom camping visitors are competing for the same space, for example:
• campers and their vehicles blocking views and spoiling the amenity of an area;
• campers preventing local access to public areas; and
• campers damaging the local environment and antisocial behaviours.
11. In light of the significant growth in demand for freedom camping as an
accommodation option it is time to have a conversation with New Zealanders about
the place for freedom camping in New Zealand.
Proposed discussion document
12. Through the proposed discussion document we seek to gain a better understanding of
New Zealanders views on the place of freedom camping in New Zealand. This
understanding will allow us to assess whether there is a need to change our approach
to regulating and managing freedom camping. Information
13. The document outlines eight main components of a freedom camping system and
seeks New Zealanders feedback on how we should approach each of these.
14. These eight issues are framed as high-level questions that make up the body of the
• What do we mean by freedom camping?
Does freedom camping still have a place in New Zealand?
• Where should people be able to freedom camp?
• How should people be able to freedom camp?
Who should be responsible for making decisions about freedom camping?
• Who should be responsible for providing the facilities freedom campers need?
• Who should pay for freedom camping?
• How do we deal with problems caused by freedom camping?
15. Under each of these questions the paper:
• highlights the broad choices or trade-offs;
• identifies the benefits and issues associated with these choices, including the
impact on people who freedom camp;
• notes how the current system deals with these choices;
• presents a case study or example; and
• seeks the public’s views on how these choices should be made in the future.
16. The document does not put forward policy proposals for how the current system could
be changed to better manage freedom camping.
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Release of discussion document
17. It is intended that the discussion document wil be released in mid-July 2017 and open
for comment for a period of five weeks until mid-August. It will be released in a
website format with some supporting material for printing and wider distribution.
18. The public feedback can then be used to analyse whether the current regulatory
system for managing freedom camping is working for New Zealanders, and whether
any change is required.
19. The Department of Internal Affairs and the Ministry prepared this paper and
undertook consultation with:
19.1 The Department of Conservation; Ministries for Primary Industries,
Environment; Ministries of Social Development, Culture and Heritage, Health,
Transport, Justice; Te Puni Kōkiri; Land Information New Zealand; New Zealand
Transport Agency; Immigration New Zealand; and New Zealand Customs
Service; Tourism New Zealand. The Department of the Prime Minister was
19.2 In addition, the Department also consulted with; Tourism Industry Aotearoa;
Local Government New Zealand; the Society of Local Government Managers;
New Zealand Motor Caravan Association; and New Zealand Conservation
20. This paper, seeking approval to release a discussion document, does not have direct
financial implications. The cost of releasing the discussion document for public
consultation wil be met by the Department and the Ministry.
Human rights, disability, or gender implications
21. There are no human rights, disability or gender implications for these proposals.
This paper does not have direct legislative implications.
Regulatory impact analysis
23. The regulatory impact analysis requirements do not apply to the release of the
discussion document because it does not contain policy proposals.
24. Subject to Cabinet approval, we will release the discussion document on or before 14
July 2017. The consultation period wil run for five weeks. The discussion document
will be publicised through a media release from our offices and communications to
industry stakeholders. The discussion document wil be published on the Department’s
website and the link will be sent directly to stakeholders.
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25. The Minister of Tourism and the Minister of Local Government recommend that the
Cabinet Economic Growth and Infrastructure Committee:
that the significant increase in tourism demand has also resulted in a large
increase in the demand for freedom camping as an accommodation option for
both domestic and international visitors;
that the attached discussion document presents differing views on seven
areas of concern with the current approach to managing and regulating freedom
that the attached discussion document does not propose any policy
changes, but does seek feedback on the public’s preferences for freedom
camping generally and the way it is managed;
to the release of the discussion document for public consultation in July
2017, which will last five weeks; and
the Minister of Tourism and the Minister of Local Government to
jointly make minor editorial changes to the discussion document prior to its
Authorised for lodgement
Hon Paula Bennett
Hon Anne Tolley
Minister of Tourism
Minister of Local Government
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