Eli Orzessek offers security advice for freedom campers on a voyage of discovery.

I'm hiring a campervan with a couple of friends to drive around our beautiful country, which is something I've always wanted to do. We'll be doing the freedom camping thing (tidying up after ourselves of course) but I did have some concerns about safety when you get off the beaten track. Do you have any suggestions for staying secure on the road?

If you pay attention to the news, there's definitely been a number of horror stories involving freedom-camping tourists - most of the incidents tend to involve overseas visitors who've heard that New Zealand is a "safe country" and have been a bit complacent. It's a bummer too, because it's not exactly the greatest impression - although to our credit, Kiwis tend to rally around these unfortunate travellers and help them make the most of the rest of their holiday.

So it's great you're thinking about this - some of the most beautiful spots in the country can also be very isolated, which is a danger. I've asked my contacts at Jucy Campervans to help out with some tips.

Here are some basics:

  • Make sure you're aware of the road rules - of course as a Kiwi, you already are - but I'll include this for the benefit of any overseas visitors who may be reading: We drive on the left!

  • When parked, make sure you lock the vehicle and leave belongings out of clear sight or in the storage areas provided; campers can be a target for people with sticky fingers. Some campervans also include a safe.

  • When freedom camping, make sure you park among other vehicles. Although it's nice to have the whole place to yourselves, there's always safety in numbers. And good neighbours can become good friends, so say "hi" to your fellow roadtrippers.

  • Make sure you're camping in registered campsites to avoid fines or being towed away - if you're visiting DoC sites, check the rules around them before you go.

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