Bill tackles tourism’s unintended consequences

Prior to COVID-19, New Zealand enjoyed an unprecedented tourism boom, generating foreign exchange earnings, investment and jobs but it has left popular destinations struggling with the impact of freedom campers, National List MP based in West Coast Tasman Maureen Pugh says.

Ms Pugh’s Member’s Bill, the Freedom Camping (Infringement Offences and Other Matters) Amendment Bill, has today been pulled from the ballot.

“Freedom camping has long been enjoyed by Kiwis and overseas visitors alike but as the volume of visitors has increased, so has the pressure on tourist infrastructure and some errant campers are leaving much more than just footprints in their wake.

“Freedom camping is and will continue to be an important part of New Zealand’s tourism industry and must be managed well.

“My law change updates freedom camping legislation to make it easier to crack down on some of the poor behaviour and make the rules more consistent and easier to follow. It retains the current definition of freedom camping but imposes conditions to ensure it is well-managed.

“Restrictions would include confining freedom camping which isn’t self-contained to within 200 metres of toilet facilities, empowering more government organisations to limit freedom camping on land they control and provide stronger enforcement of fines for rule-breakers.

“The implementation of these restrictions will ensure that as we re-open our borders to a post COVID-19 world, we are striking a practical balance between the very real economic benefits of freedom camping, but also the unintended consequences that some freedom campers leave behind.

“Minister of Tourism Stuart Nash has previously made comments around targeting only wealthier tourists because of their high value to the economy. This is a very blunt approach to a complicated issue.

“New Zealand is primarily a touring destination, and freedom camping is one of the many ways that people choose to experience our country. But there are a lot more people freedom camping than there used to be and this has created some issues.

“My legislation will go some way to mitigating these so that, once we are reopened, New Zealand can continue to be a destination for all.”

You can find a copy of the Freedom Camping (Infringement Offences and Other Matters) Amendment Bill here.