The freedom camping boom and its issues have been at the centre of debate among over 50 delegates at the LGNZ freedom camping symposium today in Nelson.
Questions on how to tackle the lack of infrastructure, crowding at New Zealand’s most scenic spots and difficulties around enforcement have been at the forefront of discussion at the symposium, which was opened by Hon Nanaia Mahuta, Minister of Local Government, and Hon Eugenie Sage, Minister of Environment.
Discussions have confirmed that there isn’t a one size fits all solution to the issues, and that local approaches are needed to specific local issues – the differences between Rotorua’s needs and those further south in Queenstown a recurring topic.
Discussion will continue this afternoon around how to deal with the infrastructure deficit that many councils face around freedom camping, and the creative ways to provide infrastructure. A presentation on mobile app solutions was popular, suggesting technology partnerships could be a way forward.
LGNZ National Council Member and Mayor of Tasman Richard Kempthorne also launched LGNZ’s good practice guide for freedom camping, which provides advice and resources for councils and tourism operators.
“The good practice guide will help councils address issues including littering, motor home self-containment, and public carpark use and presents a range of approaches through developing strategy, displaying signage, site assessments and visitor education.”
“It’s heartening to see such strong representation from local government on freedom camping issues, and to be joined by central government and the tourism industry to discuss solutions to those issues,” says Richard.
In her opening speech, Minister of Local Government Hon Nanaia Mahuta encouraged more cooperation between local and central government on solutions to freedom camping issues.
“It’s great that local government New Zealand has seen how important it is to hold a symposium like this, bringing people into the room and ensuring that we’re looking for local solutions, because there are several challenges.”
She identified the issues that smaller ratepaying bases have in providing infrastructure for freedom camping.
“As we tried to secure opportunity in our regions we probably weren’t geared as well as we could have been to the issue in front of us, and the challenge that small rural communities with a low ratepaying base have accommodating the impacts of freedom campers,” Ms Mahuta said.
Discussion from today’s symposium will inform the central and local government freedom camping working group which features four local government representatives alongside central government and tourism leaders announced yesterday by Minister of Tourism Kelvin Davis.
For more information contact LGNZ’s Deputy Chief Executive Advocacy, Helen Mexted on 029 924 1221 or firstname.lastname@example.org