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Local expertise offered to freedom campers

12 December 2008

Media Release

Local expertise offered to freedom campers

“Assume nothing – always ask a local” is the tourism industry’s recommendation to freedom campers this summer.

The New Zealand Freedom Camping Forum (NZFCF) is today launching a website www.camping.org.nz and supporting promotional material that encourage freedom campers to “ask a local” before they pitch a tent or park a campervan.

The message will be prominently displayed by participating campervan operators, in i-SITE visitor information centres around the country, Department of Conservation (DOC) Visitor Centres and participating holiday parks. Supporting material will include eye-catching information on acceptable freedom camping practices developed by i-SITE New Zealand, along with useful links to the locations of public toilets, dump stations and recycling facilities.

The Freedom Camping Forum was convened in December 2007 by the Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA) following growing concerns about the impacts of freedom camping in several parts of the country. Forum members include rental vehicle companies, central and local government, and tourism organisations (see ‘Freedom Camping Forum – key points’ for a full list of members).

“Freedom camping in the wrong places or without appropriate management is
having negative environmental, social and economic impacts in some regions.
Freedom camping is a popular way to enjoy New Zealand and we don’t want to prohibit people from travelling that way, but we do want to minimise the negative impacts,” TIA Advocacy Manager Geoff Ensor says.

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While the website will be aimed directly at freedom campers themselves, the NZFCF has also developed a range of other initiatives to help communities better manage freedom camping in their areas.

The Rental Vehicle Association (RVA) will encourage all its members to fit toilets, wastewater tanks and rubbish bins to all vehicles designed for sleeping in. It is also developing new stickers to allow local government enforcement officers and campervan hirers to identify at a glance whether vehicles are fully or partially self-contained.

National freedom camping policy principles have been developed to assist local councils put together detailed freedom camping policies for their own regions. These principles have been adopted by South Island councils.

A national ‘no camping’ sign has been developed. The lack of a single sign that is used around the country has been confusing for freedom campers.

“We are delighted at the strong support for the initiatives of the NZFCF from all sectors. Through having the tourism industry working together with central and local government, we hope to help communities around the country manage freedom campers in ways that are appropriate for them,” Mr Ensor says.

Support for NZFCF

Clutha District Council
Planning and Environment Manager Murray Brass:
“The Clutha District Council has been very pleased to be part of this cooperative exercise. It’s been great to have all of the different parties working together, and the industry has taken a very positive and responsible approach. We expect to see some real benefits come from this.”

Department of Conservation (DOC)
Director General Al Morrison:
"Camping has long been a traditional outdoor recreation activity in New Zealand. DOC is fully supportive of the Freedom Camping Forum's initiatives, and encourages people to respect the environment they are sharing with others. Not all activities are appropriate in all places, and as in most things we do, rules apply. DOC will help share information about freedom camping and also encourages people to use the many existing campsites being managed around the country.”

Destination Marlborough Trust
CEO Dr Dominic Moran:
"It has been vital for Destination Marlborough to be involved with the responsible freedom camping initiative because we care deeply about the sustainable future of our region. We take the responsibility of hosting guests in our region very seriously and we want everything that we enjoy about Marlborough to be available for future generations. Therefore, the education of visitors about how to camp responsibly when in our region is very important. We will be promoting the freedom camping signage, website and i-SITE initiatives to support responsible freedom camping in Marlborough."

Destination Rotorua Tourism Marketing
General Manager Don Gunn:
"Destination Rotorua Tourism Marketing became involved with the Freedom Camping Forum after noticing an increasing number of visitors to the Rotorua region were arriving by campervan. Many campervan visitors were not aware that rules relating to campervan activities varied by region and consequently they were unwittingly sometimes causing friction in the local community. It is important to respect that local communities make rules that best meet their needs and therefore Destination Rotorua supports the Freedom Camping Forum's educational campaign aimed at campervan visitors to "assume nothing - always ask a local" and referring them to local i-SITEs for advice on where they can camp. In Rotorua we are keen to encourage campervan visitors to the region and will be soon be releasing a new brochure to meet the specific needs of campervan visitors with regard to where they can camp, waste disposal facilities, parking and security so that they can get on with enjoying their visit."

Holiday Accommodation Parks Association of NZ (HAPNZ)
Chief Executive Fergus Brown:
“This project is an excellent example of the industry taking the initiative to address what is a major problem. The industry has taken responsibility for the issue and has shown an innovative approach in developing a range of initiatives to target a wide range of visitors and businesses. HAPNZ is working with their 300-plus member parks to encourage them to assist visitors requiring information on where to camp.
The holiday park sector has fully adopted the guiding principles of both kaitiakitanga and manaakitanga and we see this initiative as being an important part of supporting both values. Our involvement in this initiative will be ongoing and we are committed to its long term success.”

JUCY Rentals
CEO Tim Alpe:
“Being one of the largest motorhome companies in New Zealand we felt it imperative that we got behind this important issue. New Zealand is one of the only places left in the world where freedom camping is allowed and the last thing we wanted was a small group basically spoiling it for the majority. What was very pleasing was that this was never about banning freedom camping but more around what is responsible camping.

“ We feel that the decisions made have come about as a result of discussions between all parties and as such it has a lot greater chance of success. The decisions made have been for the benefit of all involved and it is pleasing to see that educated discussion can produce a positive resolution.

“JUCY will continue to educate its customers on the rules around freedom camping in New Zealand. We 100% support the initiatives put forward by the Freedom Camping Forum and will do our best to ensure these are passed onto our customers. This will be done by educating our customers and staff.”

Kaikoura District Council
Mayor Kevin Heays:
“The Kaikoura District Council became involved in the national Freedom Camping Forum after its traffic by-law and litter by-laws were seen to cover any monitoring issues locally, but we could foresee a problem if nationally, there were not similar – or at the least common – approaches.

“With assistance from the Ministry for the Environment we have developed a small but easily read pamphlet for distribution. We have arranged these to be included in the ‘campers’ packs’ on hiring the vehicle and on any relevant website we can find. We also distribute these manually throughout the District – using the ‘under the wipers’ approach. Kaikoura District Council also allocated a budgeted amount to assist with the education and monitoring of camping behaviour over this next summer. Naturally, our emphasis is on socially responsible and environmental camping behaviour.”

KEA Campers
Executive Director, Grant Brady:
“KEA has always prided itself on being an industry leader, and we have shown that again by being the only operator with a fleet of fully certified self-contained motorhomes, which we have operated since 2002. KEA has long wanted an opportunity to promote the importance of self containment, and welcomed the Forum as a positive step in this direction.

“We are eager to support NZ tourism as a whole. Unless we stick together as an industry and clean up our environment to ensure New Zealand lives up to its clean green image, our entire tourism industry – and all our businesses – will be in jeopardy. We support this particular approach because it is important to realise that each area of NZ is different. The Forum has put a framework in place which gives general guidelines while at the same time giving the individual regions the final say in what is most appropriate for their region.

“We will be supporting the Forum’s initiatives with collateral and education at both our depots, on our websites in four languages, and in all our vehicles. Because we are at the top end of the market many of our customers are influential and we will be encouraging them to lead by example and encourage campers they meet on the road to also act responsibly.”

Ministry of Tourism
General Manager Ray Salter
"Maintaining a pristine environment and ensuring ongoing community support are core objectives of the New Zealand Tourism Strategy 2015. The development of a website and marketing collateral to educate visitors on responsible camping practices are tangible ways of achieving these objectives. The Ministry's financial support and participation in the NZFCF underscores government's commitment to delivering a high quality environment for all visitors to enjoy."

NZ Motor Caravan Association Inc. (NZMCA)
Resource Management Coordinator Xanthe Fawcett:
“Our members value New Zealand’s freedom camping heritage and we wish to preserve this privilege. NZMCA acknowledges that the impacts of freedom camping in terms of environmental and public health will, over time, become unacceptable if unmanaged. The promotion and development of sustainable motor caravanning and responsible freedom camping initiatives is paramount to our organisation. NZMCA actively advocates the importance of self-containment and proper waste disposal and endorses certified self-contained motorhomes as a way of dealing with many of New Zealand’s freedom camping waste issues. The key to managing freedom camping is exactly that – management. A proactive stance in the management of sites, education and provision of limited infrastructure such as dump stations goes a long way to maximise the benefits while mitigating the impacts.”

Executive Director Neil Geddes
“We know that our customers want to do the right thing, we just need to educate them. It has been great to be part of a group of people with different points of view working towards a common goal - we believe that the result is practical things that we can all follow which will benefit everyone.”

United Campervans
Managing Director Kay Howe:
“Most of our hirers visit New Zealand with the belief that as a country we are clean, green and safe and that they have the opportunity to interact with nature. Therefore it is important that we protect both the environment and the right of the visitor to freedom camp. However, this right can not be at the expense of the natural environment which attracts them to our shores. Having strong guidelines on what is acceptable behaviour and which areas are appropriate for camping will make it easier for United Campervans to properly inform our hirers so we can achieve these goals.”

Westland District Council
Mayor Maureen Pugh:
“Westland District Council became involved with the NZFCF because we had a proven human waste problem along the state highway in our district that we needed to resolve. The pristine environment that we promote is a high volume visitor destination and could be very easily compromised if we did nothing to try and control freedom camping. We have adopted a Freedom Camping Policy, worked with Opus on the sites that are available as stop-off points along the highway, and will be educating the local i-SITE and Visitor Centre operators and holiday park owners about ‘asking a local’ so that our visitors receive the information that is appropriate for our district.”


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