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Freedom Camping Addressed by Forum

(PR.co.nz) Campervan hirers are to be told it is not acceptable to camp anywhere but designated camping areas, the New Zealand Freedom Camping Forum has agreed.

People hiring non-self-contained vehicles will be instructed not to freedom camp. They will be directed to designated camping areas, like holiday parks, Department of Conservation (DOC) camp sites and other designated camping spaces.

The Forum – which includes representatives from rental vehicle operators, local government, tourism organisations and central government – met in Auckland yesterday to discuss growing concerns about the impacts of freedom camping in several parts of New Zealand.

Tourism Industry Association Advocacy Manager Geoff Ensor, who chaired the meeting, says all parties recognised the increasing public antagonism to freedom camping and were committed to taking action.

“The right to freedom camp is a New Zealand birthright and we don’t want to see it banned, but we must take action to protect our environment and our international reputation as a friendly, welcoming destination,” Mr Ensor says.

The Forum agreed on a set of more than 30 actions that will be undertaken by rental vehicle operators, local government and tourism organisations to improve the behaviour of campers.

These included a commitment from the rental vehicle operators at the meeting to inform clients from the time they book vehicles that it is not acceptable to camp outside designated camping areas.

“This is a huge step forward. Operators representing about 80% of the rental vehicle fleet and the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association, which represents 80% of private motor home owners, were at the Forum and agreed to these actions. They will also talk to others in the industry to ensure this happens across the board,” Mr Ensor says.

Local government representatives will advocate for legislation establishing a national instant fine system that councils will be able to use to better enforce freedom camping rules in their areas.

They will also work to better inform people about where they are allowed to camp in each region. Efforts will also be targeted at people buying private vehicles to use while camping around New Zealand.

“At present, each council has different rules about freedom camping. Local government has agreed to develop a model bylaw and share best-practice freedom camping management models from around the country. We will also be making more effort to ensure travellers are aware of the rules as they move about the country, through the i-SITE information network, DOC visitor centres, holiday parks, tourism operators, websites and social media,” Mr Ensor says.

The Forum is confident that the actions it will undertake over the next few months will make significant improvements to the management of freedom camping, Mr Ensor says.

“The industry and local government recognise that the time has come for decisive action. We will continue to work closely together to ensure we are doing all we can, particularly in the run-up to Rugby World Cup 2011,” Mr Ensor says.

Visit the Freedom Camping Forum website www.camping.org.nz.

Media Release 22 April 2010 from fourcorners.co.nz

 



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