Proposed freedom camping law to clamp down on bad behaviour up for public consultation

A freedom camping bill aimed to clamp down on bad behaviour and reduce the negative impacts is open for public consultation.

In 2019, an estimated 245,000 people freedom-camped - more than 60 percent were international visitors.

However, increasing numbers of freedom campers has caused concern in some communities with some councils cracking down on those who don't follow the rules.

Tourism Minister Stuart Nash announced the legislation last November, saying it was to ensure the right vehicles are in the right places.

The Self-contained Motor Vehicles Legislation Bill was introduced to Parliament last month.

It includes a national requirement for freedom campers staying in a vehicle on land managed by a local authority to use a certified self-contained vehicles unless at a designated freedom camping side, harsher fines for those who don't comply, a regulatory system for certifying self-contained vehicles with oversight from the Plumbers, Gasfitters, and Drainlayers Board, and requiring vehicles to have a fixed toilet to be certified as self-contained.

"The rule will establish a baseline expectation that freedom campers who are staying on land managed on behalf of ratepayers will stay in certified self-contained vehicles that have facilities enabling them to be self-supporting for several days," the bill stated.

Consultation closes in the middle of October, with a report due in March next year.

If passed, the bill would provide a two-year transition period, but the new rule requiring the use of certified self-contained vehicles on land managed by local authorities would come into effect straight-away.