Freedom camping changes

The Government has announced its intended policy changes to support sustainable freedom camping in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Recent updates

Public consultation has now started on the Freedom Camping Regulations Discussion document. You can find out more about this consultation on the Have your say webpage:

Have your say: Freedom Camping Regulations

The Freedom Camping Transition Fund for local authorities will open on Wednesday 14 September 2022 and close on Tuesday 4 October 2022. 

More information on the Transition Fund for Local Authorities 

The Self-Contained Motor Vehicles Legislation Bill is now being considered by the Economic Development, Science and Innovation Committee. You can find the Bill and its progress on the New Zealand Parliament website.

Self-contained Motor Vehicles Legislation Bill(external link) — New Zealand Legislation

Bill

On 25 August 2022, the Freedom Camping Bill was introduced to Parliament. The Bill is currently at select committee.

The Bill is an omnibus bill, which amends the Freedom Camping Act 2011 and the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Act 2006 to reduce the negative impacts of freedom camping. The major changes the Bill makes are:

  1. Require vehicle-based freedom campers to use a certified self-contained vehicle when they stay on council land. This is unless the council designates the site as suitable for non-self-contained vehicles.
  2. Establish a regulated system for the certification and registration of self-contained vehicles.
  3. Require vehicles to have a fixed toilet to be certified self-contained.
  4. Strengthen the infringement system
  5. Extend the Freedom Camping Act to include land managed by Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency and Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand.

Regulations

In order to fully implement the government’s freedom camping changes, the Self-Contained Motor Vehicles Legislation Bill provides for regulations to be made. Regulations will set out the technical detail to underpin the law, including the technical requirements that vehicles must meet to be certified as self-contained, fees and levies, and infringement fee levels.

Timeframes

The progress of the Bill and its Regulations are subject to Cabinet and Parliamentary processes. This website will provide updates on timelines as these pass through the Parliamentary process. There will be a 2 year transition period before all self-contained vehicles will need to meet the new standards to be considered self-contained. Some types of vehicles will need to meet the standard earlier. These will include rental vehicles, or any vehicles certified after the regulations have been active for 6 months. The transition period will commence as soon as the Bill is enacted by Parliament.

The full timeline is as follows:

Bill enacted

  • Parliament amends the Freedom Camping Act 2011 and the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Act 2006.
  • Vehicle-based freedom camping on council land must now be done in a certified self-contained vehicle, unless at a site specifically designated by the local council for freedom camping in non-self-contained vehicles. Councils can designate sites as appropriate for non-self-contained vehicles through bylaws.
  • Existing bylaws that designate areas as suitable for non-self-contained vehicles will continue to apply.
  • The voluntary standard will still be used to demonstrate proof of self-containment, and blue warrant cards will still be issued.
  • Only vehicles with a fixed toilet (not portable) will be able to be certified as self-contained from now but vehicles with a portable toilet already certified can still freedom camp.
  • New freedom camping offences are introduced, and infringements can now be emailed.
  • The Freedom Camping Act 2011 can now be applied to land managed by Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency and Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand.

6 months after enactment

  • The register of self-contained vehicles is operational and accessible to enforcement officers to verify whether a vehicle has been certified as self-contained. Certification authorities can start recording the details of certifications. The public can access the register of self-contained vehicles to see whether a vehicle has been certified as self-contained.
  • Issuing authorities can apply to the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board to become certification authorities, and start issuing green warrant cards.
  • Certification can be done by either existing issuing authorities (using the voluntary standard and issuing blue warrant cards) or new certification authorities (using the technical requirements in Regulations and issuing green warrant cards).
  • Vehicles can now be certified to the new requirements (green warrant cards), but vehicle owners can still choose to certify their vehicles with blue warrants if their vehicle has a fixed toilet. Blue warrant cards will still be evidence of self-containment.
  • The new tiered infringement framework will be in place. Higher fines may be issued for non-compliance with freedom camping rules.
  • Blue warrant cards will still be evidence of self-containment.

12 months after enactment

  • Vehicles can no longer be certified to the old voluntary standard with blue warrant cards. However, existing blue warrant cards are still evidence of self-containment.
  • Only certification authorities will be able to certify vehicles. Only green warrant cards can be issued. Any self-containment vehicle certification or recertification must be to the new requirements.

18 months after enactment

  • Rental vehicles used for freedom camping must now be certified with a green warrant card.
  • Blue warrant cards on rental vehicles will no longer be evidence of self-containment.
  • Existing blue warrant cards on other vehicles will still be evidence of self-containment.

24 months after enactment

  • All vehicles used for freedom camping must now be certified with a green warrant card.
  • Blue warrant cards no longer meet the minimum requirements for demonstrating that a vehicle is self-contained.

Please note these timeframes are subject to Cabinet and Parliament processes – any deferrals to timeframes will be communicated on this website.

Further material

This website includes a range of documentation relating to the freedom camping law reforms, including:

  • Material relating to the 2021 public consultation on freedom camping policy proposals, including the discussion document, summary of submissions and individual submissions from businesses and organisations
  • Policy documents and freedom camping related weekly report items to the Minister of Tourism between February 2021 to November 2021
  • Freedom camping research.

View all documents(external link)

Please direct any questions to responsiblecamping@mbie.govt.nz.

Last updated: 08 September 2022