The head of the country's largest camping organisation has hit back at "incredibly damaging" comments from some in the freedom camping community over public pooping.
New Zealand Motor Caravan Association (NZMCA) CEO Bruce Lochore says the "bizarre" comments by Bob Osborne, a spokesman for Responsible Campers Association Inc (RCAI), are an "extreme view" that don't reflect the vast majority of freedom campers.
"We represent 112,000 members who will be horrified by Mr Osborne's assertion that his group wants people to poo 50m away from waterways and to bury their droppings at least 15cm below ground," Lochore said.
He said the "completely irresponsible" comments are simply a "misguided attempt to oppose the Government's proposed changes to toughen freedom camping laws".
"They take no account of the views of councils and communities throughout the country," he said.
"No one has fought harder than us over the past decade to actively defend the rights of responsible Kiwi families to freedom camp."
Lochore said his organisation has spent $1.76 million in legal fees as well as spending "countless hours" talking to councils and communities all over Aotearoa about the issues of freedom camping.
"From those discussions it has become crystal clear that, by and large, communities nationwide aren't opposed to freedom camping; but they have had a gutsful of irresponsible freedom campers."
Lochore said the timing of Osborne's claims couldn't be worse, with Minister of Tourism Stuart Nash expected to release new freedom camping proposals due soon.
That is likely to exclude portable toilets from a future definition of Certified Self-Containment Standard (CSC) as well as establishing and administering authority to monitor clubs and associations, the NZMCA said.
"Communities have seen this all too often and have lost confidence in the credibility of the Standard, thanks to groups like Mr Osborne's issuing a freedom camping certificate that has nothing to do with the Standard and would clearly not meet the anticipated new requirements," Lochore said.
"Councils and communities are fed up with these irresponsible campers travelling the country in poorly-designed vehicles with inaccessible portable toilets.
"As a result, the public has lost confidence in them, tarnishing the reputation of all vehicles with portable toilets.
"If we want to retain any hope of responsible Kiwi families being able to continue enjoying freedom camping in the years to come, we need to accept the communities' position and support the Minister's proposals."