Responsible camping

MBIE is providing secretariat support for the Government’s Responsible Camping Working Group.

Report of the Responsible Camping Working Group

The Responsible Camping Working Group reported back to the Minister of Tourism on 31 July 2018 with an assessment of the current place of responsible camping in New Zealand and a list of recommendations aimed at better management of the system.

Read the full report [PDF 144KB]

Shifting to a better camping system

The Responsible Camping Working Group considers that it is important to protect and retain New Zealanders’ rights to access and use our public spaces, but that the current system can be improved so that councils and landowners have more effective tools to manage camping on their land.

A successful system would have a sustainable and flexible network of camping places, and mean that camping had a positive economic, social and environmental impact overall.

Recommendations for changes to the system

In order to shift New Zealand to a better system for managing camping in public places, the Responsible Camping Working Group recommended:

  • a review of the Freedom Camping Act 2011 to ensure it’s still fit for purpose, or the introduction of a new piece of legislation that encourages responsible camping. This would include:
    • the introduction of four ‘camping zones’ that can be applied to local circumstances but which ensure there is consistency in responsible camping rules across New Zealand
    • a review of the compliance regime to ensure it is an effective deterrent to unwanted behaviour.
  • a review of the administration system for the New Zealand Standard for self-containment of motor caravans (NZS 5465:2001), including whether that certification should be overseen by a national body, in a similar way to the warrant of fitness system for vehicles
  • a review of the Camping-Grounds Regulations 1985, which some operators see as too restrictive and prohibitive to setting up new sites.


As well as these regulatory actions, the working group identified three supporting actions. They recommended that:

  • guidance be provided to support councils and landowners to transition to the new system once it is decided on
  • use of technology be explored to help manage responsible camping
  • data be used to support decision making at both a national and a local level.


Recommendations for managing camping this summer

Legislative changes can take a long time to implement, so the working group recommended three actions to help communities manage camping during the 2018/19 peak summer season:

  • infrastructure, education and enforcement projects proposed by 28 councils across the country to address current pressures associated with freedom camping
  • a marketing and education campaign run by Tourism New Zealand to provide information to campers on expected behaviour
  • a data and technology driven pilot that will provide real-time updates on the availability of campsites in some important tourist destinations.


In August 2018, the Government agreed to these actions and put $8.5 million aside to fund them.

Read about funding provided to councils.

Next steps

MBIE, in collaboration with other agencies, is now going to look at how these longer term recommendations around legislative change might be put into effect.

Actions recommended ahead of peak season 2018/19 are currently being implemented.

Facts and figures

MBIE has provided some analysis of responsible camping by international visitors in New Zealand from data gathered in the International Visitor Survey.

Read the analysis

Funding recipients

Funding of around $8 million was approved in August 2018 for various projects and initiatives to help councils manage freedom camping in their regions during the 2018/19 peak summer season.

Read more…

Working group

A working group on responsible camping was established in April 2018 to provide recommendations to the Minister of Tourism on policy, regulatory and implementation options for improved management of responsible camping in New Zealand.

Read more…