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Petition calls for review of freedom camping

Responsible Campers Association Incorporated have launched a petition asking the Government to complete a review of Freedom Camping in New Zealand.

The group has for several years been suggesting that the need to stand back and look at the whole situation in New Zealand was needed.

"For too long many outdoor recreation groups that Freedom Camp, have been totally ignored by the Government," says spokesman for the group, Bob Osborne.

"The situation now is that most Councils and much of the public think freedom camping is only about RV’s – nothing can be further from the truth with RV’s being a mere minority under the definition provided in the Freedom Camping Act."

The Freedom Camping Act defines tents, cars and other temporary structures as methods of Freedom Camping and "the full extent of that definition is rarely fully understood," says Bob.

"The Act defines that nearly everyone that camps within 200 metres of a 'motor vehicle accessible area' to be a Freedom Camper – that motor vehicle can be a off-road type motorcycle which can practically go anywhere. As as a result, river and lake users that camp shore-side by night are often defined as campers, along with cycle tourists and many others.

"When that definition is not clearly understood by Councils and others, we end up with limitations being placed on freedom campers due to their mode and recreational activities," he says.

"Take for example ‘certified self containment’ which is regularly used by Councils to restrict freedom campers and which requires RV’s to have certain facilities, non-RV campers are unable to be certified as self contained so are excluded from the ability to camp.

"The fact they are unable to be certified does not reflect on their ability to camp in a responsible manner. In fact if media reports are anything to go by, its is only RV’s that are causing problems which lead to complaints."

The group is asking for a review with no agenda.

"We want everyone to be able to sit around the table and decide on the correct definition of ‘Freedom Camp’ as the legislation provides, and then decide on the road ahead which meets the requirements of everybody not just RV’s," says Bob.

"In doing that, programs like Certified Self Containment and our own Responsible Campers Accreditation program can be judged on their merits if it is accepted that something like that is required, which is inclusive of all campers"

The petition, which runs until July 29, can be found here.

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