Supporting sustainable freedom camping in Aotearoa New Zealand

Submissions closed: 16 May 2021, 11:55pm

The Government is consulting on how to make freedom camping in New Zealand more sustainable. The discussion document outlines four proposals to improve freedom camping in New Zealand. We want to hear what you think about these proposals.

About the consultation

Responsible camping has a long history in Aotearoa New Zealand. Many New Zealanders enjoy travelling around the country, staying outside established campgrounds – and some see it as an important part of their birthright as New Zealanders to camp around New Zealand at low or no cost.

However, in recent years, the increasing number of freedom campers has raised concern from some communities around freedom campers’ cumulative impact on the environment, and the cost to host them. In particular, this concern has focused on the subset of freedom campers who stay in cars, or vans with sleeping platforms, that are not self-contained. This form of freedom camping is impacting on the social licence for tourism, and putting at risk New Zealand’s reputation as a destination that delivers a sustainable, high quality visitor experience.

The Government considers that while the borders are closed to international visitors, now is the time to address some of the systemic issues facing freedom camping.

This document presents 4 proposals for consideration:

  1. Make it mandatory for freedom camping in a vehicle to be done in a certified self-contained vehicle.
  2. Make it mandatory for freedom campers to stay in a vehicle that is certified self-contained, unless they are staying at a site with toilet facilities (excluding public conservation lands and regional parks).
  3. Improve the regulatory tools for government land managers. 
  4. Strengthen the requirements for self-contained vehicles.

Infographic showing the 4 proposals and how they connect with each other.

An infographic of the 4 proposals, and how they connect with each other.

For more information, contact details and options for providing feedback, skip to these sections:

Out of scope of the consultation

We are not seeking feedback on Government’s broader approach to supporting responsible camping. This includes:

  • exploring wider reforms to the Freedom Camping Act 2011
  • reviewing the Camping-Ground Regulations 1985, which apply to commercial campgrounds
  • any feedback or views on local bylaws or notices made under the Freedom Camping Act 2011, or which are currently being consulted on by local authorities.


Submissions are due on Sunday 16 May 2021.

MBIE will analyse all submissions received and then report back to the Minister of Tourism on the feedback, with recommendations for his consideration. Your submission will help inform policy decisions to improve responsible camping.

The discussion document

The discussion document outlines the current issues with freedom camping in New Zealand and why the Government wants change.

We seek your feedback on the proposals outlined in the discussion document. A number of supporting resources are available on this page.

Clarity on proposed changes to the types of toilets in scope of proposal 4

Key points:

The Government would like your feedback about the nature and types of toilets that are suitable for a vehicle to be certified as self-contained.

Early feedback we have received indicates that the different language used about toilets in proposal 4 – including "permanently plumbed toilet" and "fixed toilet" – is ambiguous and unclear, and makes it difficult for you to determine what you are providing feedback on. In the discussion document we referred to both "permanently plumbed" and "fixed" to mean the same thing: a “permanent toilet” as defined in the voluntary standard:

Self-containment of motor caravans and caravans (external link)- Standards NZ website

We apologise for the confusion.

Feedback we want from the public on toilets in vehicles for freedom camping:

Under proposal 4, the Government is seeking feedback on whether the voluntary standard for self-containment of motor caravans and caravans is fit for purpose, including the types of toilets it allows.

The voluntary standard allows several different types of toilet, provided that:

  • it is adequately secured while the vehicle is travelling
  • the toilet can be used within the vehicle, including sufficient head and elbow room whenever required, even with the bed made up
  • it provides sufficient waste holding capacity for the occupants for a minimum of three days.

Toilet types specified under the standard include:

  • Cassette toilet: a fixed toilet with a removable holding tank.
  • Composting toilet: a toilet that is an aerobic processing system to treat human waste, by composting.
  • Efficiency flushing toilet: a toilet which is flushed by a small volume of water.
  • Marine toilet: a fixed flushing toilet with a macerator pump, either manual or electrically operated.
  • Permanent toilet: a toilet that is permanently fixed inside the motor caravan.
  • Portable toilet: a toilet with its own holding tank, the toilet is not fixed to the motor caravan.

We want feedback on whether the different types of toilets currently specified under the standard are appropriate, or whether they should be more restrictive. For example, if only permanent toilets were allowed, this would mean toilets that can be moved around in the vehicle would not be able to be used. We are also seeking feedback on whether black waste water tanks should continue to be both removable (for example, how a cassette toilet currently operates), and fixed.

Please provide your feedback on whether the current standard, which allows for different types of toilet to suit the type of vehicle, is adequate.

Feedback received prior to this clarification is still valid, and will be considered alongside feedback received after this.

Public meetings and webinars

Public meetings to discuss the proposals are being held across these locations. Some venues and dates are still to be confirmed, we will update the webpage as soon as possible.

Location Date & Time Venue
Auckland Wednesday 14 April, 2-4pm Ellen Melville Centre, Pioneer Women's Hall, 2 Freyberg Place, Auckland CBD, Auckland 1000
Whangārei Thursday 15 April, 12-2pm Cafler Suite, Forum North, 7 Rust Avenue, Whangārei, 0140
Hokitika Tuesday 20 April, 10.30am- 12.30pm Regent Theatre Hokitika, 23 Weld Street, Hokitika 7810
Westport Tuesday 20 April, 4.30-6.30pm The Bridge Club, 12A Lyndhurst Street, Westport 7825
Queenstown Wednesday 21 April, 1-3pm Crowne II, Crowne Plaza, 93 Beach St, Queenstown 9300
Christchurch Thursday 22 April, 11am-1pm TSB Space, Tūranga, 60 Cathedral Square, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch 8011
Twizel Tuesday 27 April, 4.30-6.30pm Community Lounge, Twizel Event Centre, Marketplace, Twizel
Thames Wednesday 28 April, 10.30am-12.30pm Council Chambers, 515 Mackay St, Thames
Whitianga Wednesday 28 April, 4-6pm Mercury Bay Community Board Rooms, 10 Monk St, Whitianga
Tauranga Thursday 29 April, 12-2pm The X Space, Baycourt Community and Arts Centre, 38 Durham Street, Tauranga, 3110
Taupō Friday 30 April, 11am-1pm Great Lake Centre, 5 Story Place, Taupō 3330
Gisborne Monday 3 May, 11am-1pm The Rose Room, Lawson Field Theatre, 7 Fitzherbert Street, Whataupoko, Gisborne 4010
Picton Tuesday 4 May, 1.30-3.30pm Port Marlborough Pavilion at Endeavour Park, 181 Waikawa Road, Picton 7220
Kaikōura Wednesday 5 May, 11am-1pm Kaikōura Memorial Hall, 32 Esplanade, Kaikōura 7300
Golden Bay Thursday 6 May, 4.30-6.30pm Golden Bay Rec Park Centre, 2032 Takaka Valley Highway, Takaka, New Zealand, 7110
Nelson Friday 7 May, 11am – 1pm Trafalgar Centre, Paru Paru Rd, Nelson


Webinars on the Government’s proposals were held at the following times

  • Thursday 15 April, 2-4pm
  • Tuesday 20 April, 12-2pm
  • Thursday 22 April, 6-8pm
  • Monday 10 May, 6.30-8.30pm

If you missed these times, or would like to see the presentation that was covered, please see the recordings below:

Topic: Freedom camping consultation - need for change and the law now

Duration: 6 minutes 38 seconds

Play recording(external link) — Zoom

Topic: Freedom camping consultation - the four proposals at a glance

Duration: 15 minutes 56 seconds

Play recording(external link) — Zoom

If you have any questions about these public meetings and webinars, please direct these to

Online survey

Online Survey: Supporting Sustainable Freedom Camping in Aotearoa New Zealand(external link)

This short survey provides a series of questions to gather your feedback on the content with the discussion document.

The discussion document and the online survey are designed for you to use together – the questions in the document where we ask for your say are repeated in the online survey. 

Note that you can only complete the survey once. Please carefully consider your responses before submitting the survey.

MBIE will publish a summary of submissions

After submissions close, MBIE will publish a summary of submissions on our website at

We will not be making any individual submissions or survey responses public. Should any part of your submission be included in the summary of submissions, MBIE will seek your permission to publish your information, and ensure it does not refer to any names of individuals.

When businesses or organisations make a submission, MBIE will consider that you have consented to the content being included in the summary of submissions unless you clearly state otherwise. If your submission contains any information that is confidential or that you do not want published, you can say this in your submission.

The Privacy Act 2020 applies to submissions and survey responses. Any personal information you supply to MBIE in the course of making a submission will be used by MBIE only in conjunction with matters covered by this document.

Submissions and survey responses may be the subject of requests for information under the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA). Please set out clearly if you object to the release of any information in the submission or survey, and in particular, which part (or parts) you consider should be withheld (with reference to the relevant section of the OIA). MBIE will take your views into account when responding to requests under the OIA. Any decision to withhold information requested under the OIA can be reviewed by the Ombudsman.

Supporting resources

When providing your feedback on the discussion document, you may want to refer any of the resources below:

Freedom Camping Act 2011(external link) 
The Freedom Camping Act 2011 is the legislation regulating freedom camping in New Zealand.

Standards New Zealand: Self-containment of motor caravans and caravans(external link)
More commonly known as the Self-Contained Vehicle Standard (SCVS), this is a voluntary standard which sets out the requirements and process for certifying a vehicle as self-contained.

Last updated: 13 May 2021