Tourism industry to tot up freedom campers
Attempts to get a more accurate picture of freedom camping numbers is planned this summer.
The New Zealand Responsible Camping Forum - which includes rental car companies, local authorities and government agencies - will commission research on the extent of freedom camping.
Tourism Industry Aotearoa convenes the forum and chief executive Chris Roberts said the information would help manage campers' behaviour.
"We need to know more about where they are staying, for how long, and why they choose to freedom camp. It would also be valuable to know what they are spending their money on."
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Government agencies have estimated about 12,000 visitors use freedom camping as their main form of accommodation, with up to 60,000 doing it at some stage during their stay.
"Within that you have people who are renting a fully self contained camper van to someone who has picked up a $1500 station wagon and is sleeping in the boot, it's a very wide variety, " said Roberts.
The latter group, who tend to miss out on camping tips provided by rental vehicle companies, will be the focus of a social media campaign on responsible freedom camping.
"The central message continues to be 'assume nothing – always ask' before deciding to freedom camp," said Roberts.
Meanwhile an announcement is expected shortly on government funding for facilities, such as toilet blocks, to help reduce the mess left in some popular freedom camping spots last summer.
Roberts said the $12 million infrastructure fund was for projects that were "shovel ready."
Some may be ready to go if they won government funding, but "time is pretty short. We're not going to see a dozen facilities pop up around the country this side of Christmas."