In-tents: Freedom camping ignites tension in parks again

February 29th, 2016 | | Accommodation

freedomcamoIn New Zealand Freedom Camping bylaws are spiralling ‘out of control’, in some parts of the country  many take advantage of the new laws which grants campers a number of nights free in caravan parks.

The Christchurch City Council bylaw, introduced last December, allows freedom campers to stay free for five nights so long as they arrive one hour before sunset and leave before 9am. Tensions are rising in parks, with many calling for a restriction on the number of guests allowed to camp. But it’s not just the crowds, there have been reports of freedom campers urinating and defecating in bushes, leaving rubbish, brushing their teeth in the lakes, blocking road access and knocking over bollards to get to the grass. Its in-tents/intense.

Last year The Byte spoke to North Coast Destination Network EO Belinda Novicky who called upon local councils to act on the problems faced in Australia with freedom campers. In this country, some councils allow camper vans and motorhome users to stay a maximum of two nights for free – so far, despite complaints of rubbish and noise, there has been no threat or disadvantage the caravan park market. The real issue is the illegal campers, who set up home in carparks, streets, even highway rest stops.

The new threat emerging, however, is the one dubbed the “Uber of Camping”. Frenchman David Abitbol founded the online business Homecamp after backpacking in Australia and finding it hard to access affordable accommodation. He now links campers with home owners who are willing to rent out their backyard and facilities for a small fee.

The CEO of the Caravan Industry Association of WA, Simon Glossup, says allowing residents to rent out their backyards is unfair to caravan parks. “If you said to a caravan park ‘You can just provide a piece of grass, and not provide anything else, and you can pull out all your ablutions, and all your fire and safety and water’, well that’s a level playing field,” he said.

Is freedom camping OK, or just illegal camping and a threat to the tourism industry? Is there a way freedom campers and caravan parks  can all work together? Have your say.

Written by Alex Harmon

Source: ABC News