In a significant update to the Freedom Camping Act 2011, Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ), in collaboration with key stakeholders, has introduced new guidelines and a model bylaw to assist councils in managing freedom camping.
This move comes as part of an effort to address the evolving needs of the tourism sector while ensuring environmental protection and community interests.
The amendments, which largely came into force on 7 June 2023, include a transitional period for the implementation of new certifications for self-contained motor vehicles and related provisions.
These changes are designed to provide a clearer framework for both campers and local authorities, balancing the freedom of camping with responsible environmental stewardship.
According to their website, LGNZ, in consultation with the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association Incorporated, and Taituarā, has developed this guidance to reflect the recent amendments to legislation and case law.
The guidance aims to support councils in the development, review, and administration of bylaws related to freedom camping, a popular activity in New Zealand that significantly contributes to the local tourism industry.
The new model bylaw is available in two versions: one highlighting the changes from the 2018 model and another without these changes highlighted. This approach provides councils with a comprehensive understanding of the updates and facilitates the adaptation of local bylaws in line with the national legislation.
The updated bylaw and guidance are intended to address challenges faced by local councils, particularly in areas of high tourist influx and environmental sensitivity. By providing a standardized approach, the amendments aim to make the process of managing freedom camping more efficient and effective for local authorities.
For campers, the new law clarifies the expectations and requirements for responsible camping. It emphasizes the importance of preserving New Zealand’s natural landscapes while enjoying the freedom and adventure that camping offers.
The involvement of the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association in the consultation process ensures that the interests and perspectives of the camping community are well-represented.
The impact of these changes extends beyond the camping community to the local environment and communities. By establishing clear guidelines and expectations, the amendments seek to mitigate the environmental impacts of freedom camping and ensure that local communities are not adversely affected by the influx of tourists.
The updated Freedom Camping Act 2011 and the accompanying model bylaw represent a significant step towards sustainable tourism in New Zealand. They provide a balanced framework that respects the rights of campers while protecting the environment and local communities.
For more detailed information on the amendments and the model bylaw, visit the LGNZ website (Freedom camping model bylaw and guidance).