A working party led by local and central government on freedom camping is a positive step towards finding solutions for a complex problem, Local Government New Zealand says.
A working party is to be set up following last week’s meeting between 30 mayors and two deputy mayors and Tourism Minister Hon Kelvin Davis.
Speaking at its Quarterly Media Briefing today LGNZ President Dave Cull says while there is a desire from many New Zealanders to see a single set of rules across the country to manage freedom camping, the differing experiences from region to region means there needs to be room for local decision making.
“While the numbers of people freedom camping has risen sharply in the last 10 years and some districts are struggling with those numbers, others are having less of an issue and would welcome more,” Mr Cull says.
“So while we desire as much consistency as possible, there is a need for local variation. A one size fits all approach rarely works.”
Mr Cull says the working party will be able to address both short and long-term solutions and work towards making the Freedom Act fit-for-purpose.
Another key issue for councils and communities is the funding of infrastructure to support freedom camping and tourism in general.
“Throughout New Zealand the growth in tourism is pressuring local authorities to provide a scale and quality of facilities that surpasses the needs of the local population, and its ability to pay,” Mr Cull says.
“It remains our view that sustainable, long-term funding is needed to ensure tourists are contributing to the infrastructure and facilities they use, and that ratepayers aren’t left carrying the can. Allowing councils to collect a local tourist levy would assist in providing the means to ensure tourism retains its value – for both local communities and their visitors.”
Mr Cull says the dialogue with the Minister and the next steps are welcome and appropriate.
“There is strong support for this working group and we look forward to putting our heads together with the Government and tourism industry to find solutions,” Mr Cull says.