How to spot a dirty freedom camper

How to spot a dirty freedom camper

It has begun in earnest. Tens of thousands of tourists are descending onto New Zealand's roads in rental vans and cheap cars, heading to a town near you.

Where will they park up for the night? Where will they go to the toilet? Where will they leave their rubbish?

These are the questions many concerned locals and councils will be asking themselves after last summer's tourist season was blighted by a number of issues involving freedom campers.

Freedom campers often go to the toilet in bushes, and leave their waste and rubbish there as well. Some freedom camping sites quickly became smelly and disgusting.

Christchurch City Council last year voted unanimously to ban freedom camping in the region, unless their vehicle had a working toilet on board.

So what are the signs freedom campers are making a mess near you this summer?

Where are they parked?

Freedom campers should be parked up in official camping sites designated by that local town or district council. If they're parked elsewhere, such as a public road next to a beach or a deserted property, they are probably breaking the law.

Where are they going to the toilet?

If their vehicle does not have a toilet on board, then they must doing their business somewhere. They will probably be using a nearby public toilet, or squatting in bushes near to where they're parked. This is the worst result of freedom camping - raw human excrement. Someone has to clean this mess up.

Where are they leaving their rubbish?

Many freedom campers are prone to party 'al fresco'. They drink alcohol and cook food over open, sometimes dangerous fires. They might squeeze their empty bottles and food waste into small council rubbish bins, or they could simply leave it all on the site before driving off. Again, someone else needs to clean this mess up.

Where are they showering?

Freedom campers should be using shower facilities they've paid for by renting an official camping site, but the problem is washing in a Kiwi river or lake doesn't cost you any money.

That's a lot of soap, shampoo and other pollutants being poured into our water each summer. 

Nelson is already bearing the brunt of a huge influx, as tourists use the small city as a staging post for travel further down the South Island.

Problems could be exacerbated this summer as the Kaikoura earthquake blocked the usual route down the east coast of the South Island. Freedom campers are expected to use smaller inland roads, which traditionally see less tourist traffic.

So get ready New Zealand; an army of freedom campers is here for what could be another controversial tourist season in our little slice of paradise.