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Freedom Camping

By the very nature of the title, it sounds like we can pack up the tent, the kids and fishing rods and head off to camp where we like and enjoy a holiday.

However that’s not quite the full story. There are actually places where we can’t park. Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) and Department of Conservation (DOC) have legislative requirements to manage areas where freedom camping is prohibited. You’d be surprised how long the list of prohibited sites are across NZ.

As a tourist, finding out where you can camp is difficult. For a local authority, the harms associated with freedom camping are complex. The regulations tend to displace campers moving them from one location to another. However, with increasing demand this approach just shifts the problems around or exacerbates them by concentrating campers.

Managing camping as a national network could provide significant opportunities to reduce the overall impact, ensuring the network has sufficient capacity to meet the demand. Your organisation may have already supplied freedom camping data to DIA earlier this year. DIA were pleased with the response, but ended up with a wide range of information which was difficult to collate into a national overview. A project is now underway to deliver a comprehensive, single source of truth about camping locations to share with tourists. DIA and DOC are leading this work and have asked LGGA to join the project. LGGA’s role is to assist with reviewing the freedom camping data schema and to coordinate data provision. Bay of Plenty Regional Council will take the lead on reviewing the proposed data schema.

The end result will be a national dataset, which is intended to be reused by route planning and camping information services such as Rankers and Geozone who provide camper apps. A pilot project will run from 16 December, covering areas with high visitor volumes in Coromandel and Queenstown.

The Minister has requested national coverage of freedom camping information by May 2017, ahead of the Lions’ tour and the expected flurry of international motorhome drivers.

Look out for more information on the freedom camping data schema in the next few months.

In the meantime, if you have questions please be in touch with Gill Lawrence,, Glen Clarkin, or Nick Law

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