Anyone living in New Zealand at the moment is living in a silenced hole if you haven't heard about the issues being faced surrounding campervans and this little thing called 'freedom camping'. For those who have not heard the phrase before, people remember that this concept is alien to many people around the world not blessed with a stunning country and only 4 million people occupying it, Freedom Camping is camping in a location which does not have camping facilities and is not considered a designated campsite.
Many people, including myself, would be clueless to this concept as only a few countries practice or allow the practice of Freedom Camping. In theory, the idea is actually brilliant especially for a nation with an increasing influx of backpackers.
A free place to park up for the night and sleep is perfect for backpackers on a budget who wish to see the real New Zealand whilst travelling in a campervan. It helps to justify why you pay for a campervan, if you then have to pay for campsites on top of this then chances are it could work out cheaper for you to get the bus and stay in a hostel for the night. The problem however is that these free parking places have no facilities so using a toilet becomes a problem!
In fact, Freedom Camping is a big success in New Zealand just not for the correct reasons. Poor old Queenstown are taking matters in to their own hands by bouldering off areas to fend off those pesky freedom campers. If it wasn't bad enough that their beautiful town has been almost taken over by backpackers. Come on people, they just want to keep their stunning area of residence the way that nature intended it.
"...The easiest way (...) is for campers, to very simply, stop shitting on the floor."
The easiest way to keep these Queenstown residents happy as well as the majority of people against Freedom Camping is for campers, to very simply, stop shitting on the floor. There is no excuse and really I would love to hear the reasons behind why it is considered acceptable just because you are camping. For the people that were using a children's play area as their washing line a little bit of common sense please, you were a kid once, let the children of this generation be kids too.
"...a few deranged and disrespectful people spoil the fun for everyone else."
Sadly the lack of bathroom hygiene is causing a bit of bother in New Zealand and already a number of towns have banned freedom camping completely as so far this seems like the only way to prevent areas of natural beauty being destroyed. It's the age old lesson where a few deranged and disrespectful people spoil the fun for everyone else. However, let's be fair here, is it only backpackers and tourists adding to the problem? No, locals and residents freedom camp also so unless we put CCTV up all over the country there is no real point in posting blame.
It all comes down to is a few individuals who don't understand the concept of respect. The campervan companies in New Zealand provide ample information on what not to do, what you should be doing, and where is and isn't a great or appropriate place to camp and they also highlight excellent DOC (Department of Conservation) camp sites which are more often than not stunning, free or very cheap. All you have to do is listen and read your guide book.
"...what you need to educate people on is respect, cleanliness and how a toilet works."
It has been suggested that an educational programme be produced urging travellers to learn about freedom camping or on the other hand getting firmer with travellers caught camping in non-designated areas or campers caught leaving trash all over their site. Sadly though it seems that it will be irrelevant what you say or how much money you spend on teaching people about freedom camping when essentially what you need to educate people on is respect, cleanliness and how a toilet works.
For the most up to date information on freedom camping keep an eye on the Tourism Industry Assocation website - here's a blog from 1st April 2009.
Think pooing on the floor is acceptable? Check this news report with video out and then tell us what you think!!