TIA spearheads the Responsible Camping Forum to help manage community, social and environmental issues around freedom camping. The Forum has around 60 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).
The updated 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 was refreshed and relaunched in 2018.
There is also a Camping New Zealand Facebook page.
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.
In February 2019 we produced Motorhome/Campervan Operator Guidelines to help freedom campers camp responsibly.
These guidelines include key messages about freedom camping (camping on public land that isn't a recognised camping ground) to use when you are communicating with visitors in person, on your website or other marketing platforms, and in-vehicle.
There is also a list of online resources and camping apps that operators can give to visitors so they have clear and accurate information to help them make good camping choices.
We encourage operators to use these guidelines and share them with frontline staff.
Social media campaigns
2017/18 and 2016/17 summer social media campaigns ran on Facebook and Instagram encouraging responsible camping. Both campaigns were very successful, reaching thousands of travellers.
A responsible camping educational quiz with a small prize was run on the Camping New Zealand Facebook page during January 2018. It received over 2200 entries and reached over 47,000 people. 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.
- Several years ago, the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment published insight on freedom camping by international visitors. Read more.
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 2018 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. As a result of the report, the Government made $8.5 million available for immediate actions to be put in for the 2018/19 summer season. This included a Tourism New Zealand domestic campaign to encourage responsible camping. The campaign messaging aligned with the www.camping.org.nz website, and encouraged people to plan their journeys, use facilities and leave no trace. Read more about this campaign.