TIA spearheads the Responsible Camping Forum to help manage community, social and environmental issues around freedom camping. The Forum has around 30 members from the private sector and central and local government.
Campers are an important sector of New Zealand’s tourism industry. They travel widely through the country, tend to stay a long time and spend money on a wide range of good and activities.
The Responsible Camping Forum was set up by TIA in 2007. Since then the Forum has succeeded in achieving a unified stance on how best to manage freedom camping in New Zealand. While some degree of enforcement is required, we can reduce that through education and helping campers embrace the principle of kaitiakitanga (social and environmental responsibility).
Getting the message across
The www.camping.org.nz website provides a ‘one stop shop’ for camping, including information on eco-wise practices, keeping safe, regional camping, facilities and where to stay in New Zealand. The website is being updated in 2018.
The Forum has produced free resources to help rental vehicle operators and the wider tourism industry, visitor centres, councils and other organisations and businesses promote the responsible camping message.
Very successful social media campaigns targeting young freedom campers were run over the 2016/17 and 2017/18 summers.
2016/17 summer social media campaign
The inaugural campaign attracted 2.4 million views. The CampNZ Facebook page gained 18,500 followers from around the world between December 2016 and April 2017. Funded by 12 Forum members, the campaign targeted 18-35 year old international visitors travelling in privately-owned and rented vehicles who like to free camp.
2017/18 summer social media campaign - #explorerespectnz
The Responsible Camping campaign was relaunched in the 2017/18 summer, running on Facebook and Instagram from November 2017 to March 2018. This year the age demographic increased, to include avid campers who are 35+ and both living and travelling in New Zealand. This worked very well and generated a vast amount of engagement.
The #explorerespectnz hashtag was used in the copy of all Facebook and Instragram posts to tie the campaign together. The campaign itself was a big success. We reach and engaged thousans of people throughout New Zealand and crew the social media profiles by a substantial amount for both Facebook and Instagram.
- Since the Responsible Camping campaign was launched, it has reach 457,989 unique individuals
- The Camping New Zealand Facebook page has almost 30,000 likes
- The two summer campaign have garnered 2,247,946 impressions since its launch in November 2016 - a fantastic result
A Responsible Camping Quiz with a small prize was run on Facebook during January 2018. It was a huge success, receiving over 2,200 entries and reaching over 47,000 people with this one educational quiz alone. Feedback and engagement was all very positive and provided valuable insights into the camping community.
- The Forum commissioned a Freedom Camping Literature Review to assess and summarise the research available on freedom camping, plus identify where gaps in information and knowledge exist.
Published in April 2017, the study identifies 22 gaps in knowledge and information, highlighting not only the complex nature of this issue but also that a continuing focus on insight and information gathering is important as we work to reduce issues and maximise the benefits.
Knowledge gaps include details on freedom campers’ behaviour and motivations, how much they spend, and how much New Zealanders value the right to freedom camp. The research was shared with councils around the country.
- The Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment has published insight on freedom camping by international visitors. It shows that the number of international visitors that did some freedom camping in New Zealand has risen from 60,000 in the year ended 2015 to around 110,000 in the year ended 2017. This followed a period of moderate growth from around 20,000 visitors, 10 years prior to 2015.
Total estimated spending by visitors who did some freedom camping has also increased significantly in this period, from $290 million in 2015 to $530 million in 2017. Read more.
Government's Responsible Camping Working Group
TIA Chief Executive Chris Roberts was a member of the Responsible Camping Working Group, set up in April 2018 as a partnership between the government, local government and industry.
Its August report to the Minister of Tourism sets out recommendations to address some of the challenges around freedom camping.
The group recommended legislative reviews to improve the camping system overall. The Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment is now going to look at how these longer term recommendations might be put into effect.
In addition, as a result of the report, the Government has set aside $8.5 million to fund several initiatives to be put in place ahead of the next summer season.
Information, infrastructure, infringements
At an April 2016 meeting of the New Zealand Responsible Camping Forum, convened by TIA, attendees agreed to a three-pronged approach to tackling issues associated with freedom camping, focusing on information, infrastructure and infringements. Read more in our media release.
At their October 2016 meeting, the forum members agreed to a unified approach to manage freedom camping this summer. They also decided to get more insight to better understand the extent of freedom camping. Read more in our media release.
Around 30 Forum members met at the end of May 2017 to review freedom camping over the 2016/17 summer and plan for the upcoming peak season.