Last week's cover story by Sam Shead

really got you riled up. After travelling through New Zealand by campervan, Shead thinks our freedom camping laws are too restrictive. We asked whether you agreed ...

FOR ...

I can see why our visitors are not happy with our camping laws. There needs to be national rules everyone can understand that can be enforced by local agents. NZ businesses are keen to reap the rewards from campers but the whole country needs to put in more resources to make a better deal for visitors and locals.
Gavin Sears

I am sympathetic towards Sam Shead. Some camping fees for self-contained campervans are too high but $10 each at DoC campsites is okay. Tourists from here and overseas appreciate the freedom of NZ. As Sam says, most would be law-abiding, so maybe for those who break the regulations the fines should be hefty — but if from overseas there has to be some way of recovering fines before they leave NZ.
Glen Butts


I sympathise with these people. NZ needs to see through the small minority of backpackers, who have been allowed to ruin freedom camping, for the responsible majority who follow. Learn from countries like France instead of thinking NZ knows best and trying to reinvent the wheel with ad hoc regulations and very limited facilities.
Paul Graveling

I know a minority of young campers don't play by the rules, but he is right. The rules are not the same everywhere. Freedom camping tourists in their vans may not please all, but they spend money wherever they go, and deserve better treatment than they get.
Councils, such as the one in Queenstown should make more of an effort to improve things instead of just whining and doling out fines. The council must have vacant land that could be utilised for freedom campers. How much would it cost to erect a halfway decent toilet and shower block on such land? Showers could be paid for with a gold coin as is done in holiday parks. You want their money but don't want to give anything back.

Most of these are young people on a budget, like Kiwis and Aussies who trek around Europe.

I am a Kiwi from the Coromandel who is off in a camper van for a month to the South Island. I won't be spending any money, or visiting towns like Nelson and Queenstown, which need to get their fingers out and do something to encourage, not discourage these people.
Alan Pearse

Us Kiwis are probably the worst offenders in Europe freedom camping so we need to be mindful that we can't be puritans at home. I think as long as each area has public toilets available that are maintained reasonably well, that should be a good solution for freedom campers not to spoil our natural environments.

We should also be helping them feel safe and welcome, by offering them a map for good sites to go where public toilets are sited. A good experience is a good memory, and a good reputation for a travelling location later in life. Win-win.

The problem is, it's sold to backpackers as a cheap holiday. But it's not. Fees at campgrounds, and rental fees are ridiculous. It's cheaper to stay in hotels!
Amanda Walker


I think these people need to stay home and earn a bit more money before they travel. I have travelled extensively and it does cost a fortune.

Why should NZ be seen as a cheap destination? And you are right — New Zealanders don't like the way you come here and poop all over our country. If you can afford an airfare you can afford a motorcamp site — get real, tight-arse poopers.
Michelle, Rotorua

My response to the Brit who complains at having to pay around $60 per night to stay in a crowded South Island camp site is, if you can't afford this, stay home and we don't want you here!

How would he or she feel if we parked outside his UK home and did our business on his doorstep or in his front garden. Even if they would not resort to this, there are plenty of others who do.

Somehow, he or she comes across as being more interested in having a cheap holiday than anything else. I think this is called being inconsiderate and selfish.
Bruce Woodley

So, the poor, broke, miserable campers. My heart goes out to them that they can't plonk their campervan anywhere they want.

How terrible that they actually have to pay for a night's stay. Must be just heartbreaking that they are paying ... gosh ... $10 a night in those mean old DoC campgrounds.

We Kiwis should be ashamed that we expect people to actually pay, yes pay, for a camping spot and then, even worse, have to actually share a camping spot with other people. That is just heinous! We should just let those poor campers, who have no money, who must have walked across continents to get here, or perhaps the airlines just felt bad for them and gave them a free flight — of course, their seat must have been in the plane's freedom spot with a camping stool to sit on, free hot water to cook up their packet noodles AND [they would] expect free cutlery!

So many beautiful places in Aotearoa to freedom pooh in, perhaps the campers could self regulate and actually use a toilet.

Sad that the Freedom Pooh lot have wrecked it for all! Gosh that could be the reason why freedom camping isn't wanted. Selfish Kiwis for wanting our country to be pooh and rubbish free!

Sam lives in a dream world.

Firstly, New Zealand is an expensive place for just about everything, and it is no different for locals. Also, coming from the other side of the world makes it expensive so there is no getting away from the cost.

Second, why does he think we should give him a campsite for free?

Third, tourism is running to capacity and, as basic economics will tell you, the price goes up if the resource is limited.

Fourth, unfortunately for Sam, he may be very tidy, however, not all his mates are. As is often the case in life, the minority often ruin it for the tidy, law-abiding majority and Sam pays little acknowledgement to this in the article. He doesn't have to clean up after them. Sam has to recognise this.

Personally I see freedom camping as a blot on our beautiful landscape and to be restricted and not encouraged.
Russell Carter

Rich coming from an English tourist.

Having travelled around England, nothing is free, even parking at a beach on the Welsh coast in the middle of nowhere elicited a little man from his hut wanting £5 for the privilege and this was 15 years ago.

I feel sorry for honest freedom campers who clean up their own mess, but after stopping one discarding his rubbish on the side of the road in the Coromandel a month ago because he was too lazy to wait till the next town, five minutes away, I say they only have themselves to blame.
Brett Heaven

TIPS ...

Just a hint for anyone hiring a motorhome here or overseas. Always join the local caravan/motorhome club. You will receive a travel directory that will list thousands of cheap/free sites. The membership will pay for itself in the first week. This applies particularly to NZ where the NZMCA has its own parks in popular places at $3 per person [membership available to New Zealand residents].
Christine Tate
Got something to say? Send your letters to the Travel Editor and let us know.