Responsible Camping Working Group

The Responsible Camping Working Group includes representatives from local and central government, and tourism sector agencies.

The role of the Working Group

In 2018, the Responsible Camping Working Group was established to identify ways to better manage the freedom camping system. They recommended long-term policy and regulatory changes to the responsible camping system, and short-term practical actions that can be taken to help councils manage camping in their regions during the 2018/19 peak summer season.

Key insights included:

  • an evaluation of the role of responsible camping in New Zealand's tourism and recreation offering
  • recommendations for better management of the camping system
  • practical actions to support councils to manage freedom camping in their regions during the 2018/19 peak summer season.

Terms of Reference for the Responsible Camping Working Group [PDF, 26 KB]

Working Group members

The Responsible Camping Working Group members are:

  • Mayor Hon Steve Chadwick, Rotorua District
  • Mayor Jim Boult, Queenstown Lakes District
  • Mayor Tim Cadogan, Central Otago District
  • Deputy Mayor Andrew Turner, Christchurch City
  • Chris Roberts, Tourism Industry Aotearoa
  • Grant Webster, Tourism Holdings Limited
  • Bruce Lochore, New Zealand Motor Caravan Association
  • a senior official from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE)
  • a senior official from the Department of Internal Affairs
  • a senior official from the Department of Conservation.

We collaborate with the Department of Internal Affairs, the Department of Conservation, and Local Government New Zealand to support the Working Group.

Report from the Working Group

The Working Group presented its recommendations to the Minister in July 2018. These include:

  • long-term policy and regulatory changes to the responsible camping system, and
  • short-term practical actions that can be taken to help councils manage camping in their regions during the 2018/19 peak summer season.

Recommendations to improve the camping system

The Working Group considers that:

  • it's important to keep and protect New Zealanders’ rights to visit and use our public spaces
  • the camping system can be improved by giving councils and landowners better resources to manage camping on their land
  • a camping system with a sustainable and flexible network of camping places is desired
  • we should ensure camping has a positive economic, social and environmental impact overall.

Read the report of the Responsible Camping Working Group [PDF, 144 KB]

Regulatory changes

To help improve the system for managing camping in public places, the Responsible Camping Working Group recommends a review:

  • of the Freedom Camping Act 2011 to decide whether it's still fit for purpose, or whether new legislation that encourages responsible camping is required. The review could include:
    • the introduction of 4 ‘camping zones’. While these might vary according to local circumstances, they could create consistency in responsible camping rules across New Zealand
    • a review of the compliance system to ensure it helps prevent unwanted behaviour
  • of the administration system for the New Zealand Standard for self-containment of motor caravans (NZS 5465:2001). The review could also explore whether the certification process should be managed by a national body, in a similar way to the warrant of fitness system for vehicles
  • of the Camping-Grounds Regulations 1985, which some operators believe is too restrictive and prohibitive to setting up new sites.

Freedom Camping Act 2011(external link)

Certified Self-Containment(external link)

Camping Grounds Regulations 1985(external link)

Actions to support regulatory changes

To support these regulatory changes, the Working Group recommends that:

  • guidance be provided to support councils and landowners to transition to the new system once it's decided
  • use of technology be explored to help manage responsible camping
  • data be used to support decision-making at both a national and local level.
Last updated: 29 May 2019