TIA spearheads the Responsible Camping Forum to manage community, social and environmental issues around freedom camping. The Forum has around 30 members from the private and public sectors.
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.
TIA leads the Responsible Camping Forum, set up in 2007 to manage community, social and environmental issues around freedom camping.
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 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 has been shared with councils around the country.
In April 2017, the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment published new insight on freedom camping by international visitors. It shows that around 80,000 people a year freedom camp and that total spending by freedom campers has increased to around $380 million per year. Read more on MBIE's website.
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.
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.
A social media campaign targeting young freedom campers over the 2016/17 summer was an outstanding success and is being repeated in 2017/18. 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.
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.
The Forum is made up of about 30 representatives from the tourism industry and central and local government.