Winston Aldworth 's Opinion

Winston Aldworth is the Herald's Travel Editor.

Winston Aldworth: My secret freedom camping shame

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Campervan berths in motorcamps aren't cheap, so I can understand the appeal of a discreet lakeside spot.

New Zealand's scenic gems continue to tempt freedom campers. Photo / Thinkstock
New Zealand's scenic gems continue to tempt freedom campers. Photo / Thinkstock

I have a confession to make: I plan on doing a spot of freedom camping someday.

I took my first major motorhome trip last year and had a great time (look out for a story in the next couple of weeks). But driving around with a mobile dunny planted in the middle of your wagon makes for a cumbersome trip. They rattle, they smell like portaloos (which they kind of are), they take up a lot of space and, honestly, I would rather use the toilets and showers in the motorcamp anyway.

Crucially, I encouraged my fellow travellers to also use the toilets in the motorcamp - after all, I was the guy who had to empty the wastewater.

So - as I'll explain in my upcoming, unwritten and now twice-promoted feature - next time I do a campervan trip, I'll choose a van with no toilet and no shower. I might even look for a spot where we can park up with no check-in fees. In short, I'll be a freedom camper.

I am, however, a classic smugly tidy Kiwi, so I won't be sullying any campsites or lakesides with waste - of any sort.

Campervan berths in motorcamps aren't cheap, so I can understand the appeal of a discreet lakeside spot.

Last week's editorial on freedom campers got a heap of interesting responses from readers.

One online poster said councils need to make a greater effort and apply a little common sense.

"We have huge numbers of [freedom campers] visiting in the Orewa area and the council goes around locking up all the loos at dusk - stupidity. Tourism is our biggest earner so they should be littering the country with pay-shower/dunny units.

"There's no way they can stop freedom camping - so embrace it as part of the tourism industry and make NZ the best freedom camping country in the world."

Well said, that man!

On the subject of rogue pooing: fines are all well and good, but are the travellers getting enough information?

For many of these people, coming from crowded European countries, the space of New Zealand seems limitless. What damage could one poo do?

Quite a lot actually, mes amis - and, by the way, we don't go pooing on the doorstep of your tourist attractions.

- NZ Herald

Winston Aldworth

Winston Aldworth is the Herald's Travel Editor.

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