The Department of Conservation (DoC) has hit back at claims by New Zealand First that it gives big discounts to tourists, while "ordinary Kiwis" pay full price.
On Friday, New Zealand First spokesperson for conservation and sports and recreation Clayton Mitchell alleged tourists were paying much less than Kiwis at DoC campgrounds.
"The Department of Conservation is favouring tourists who rent campervans by giving them a big discount, up to 50 percent, to stay at New Zealand taxpayer-funded campsites, while ordinary Kiwis are charged the full price," he said.
"Not only is it cheaper for tourists, [but] they can also use the passes to pre-book prime sites at peak New Zealand holiday season, so Kiwi families can't even get a beachfront site."
Mr Mitchell was referring to a DoC weekly campsite pass that allows tourists exploring New Zealand in a rental campervan to save on campsite fees at more than 100 of DoC's campsites. The weekly pass is purchased through participating rental vehicle agencies.
While the campervan pass is only valid at specific, vehicle-accessible campsites, Mr Mitchell says it nonetheless encourages "freedom camping" tourists "treating our great outdoors as a toilet".
"Minister of Conservation Maggie Barry needs to scrap this unfair discount immediately and come up with stronger measures to deal with the explosion of freedom campers."
But DoC says there are a number of inaccuracies in Mr Mitchell's statement.
"The pass is available to anyone who rents a motorhome, not just overseas visitors," says spokesperson Leigh-Anne Wiig.
"The DoC website also clearly states that you can't book in advance with this pass."
A separate pass is also available through the Motor Caravan Association, which provides discounts to people with their own motorhomes.