Strategic Projects

Responsible Camping

TIA spearheads the New Zealand Responsible Camping Forum to help manage community, social and environmental issues around freedom camping. The Forum has around 60 members from the private sector and central and local government.

Campers are an important sector of New Zealand’s tourism industry. They travel widely through the country, tend to stay a long time and spend money on a wide range of goods and activities.

The Responsible Camping Forum was set up by TIA in 2007. Since then the Forum has succeeded in achieving a unified stance on how best to manage freedom camping in New Zealand. While some degree of enforcement is required, we can reduce that through education and helping campers embrace the principle of kaitiakitanga (social and environmental responsibility). 


Getting the message across

The website provides a ‘one stop shop’ for camping, including information on eco-wise practices, keeping safe, regional camping, facilities and where to stay in New Zealand. The website was refreshed and relaunched in 2018.

There is also a Camping New Zealand Facebook page and an Instagram account that provide travellers with camping information.

Operator resources

The Forum has produced free resources to help rental vehicle operators and the wider tourism industry, visitor centres, councils and other organisations  promote the responsible camping message.

The Motorhome/Campervan Operator Guidelines (updated April 2019) provide key messages and information to use when communicating with visitors about freedom camping. We encourage operators to use these guidelines and share them with frontline staff.



  • The Forum commissioned a Freedom Camping Literature Review to assess and summarise the research available on freedom camping, plus identify where gaps in information and knowledge exist.

    Published in April 2017, the study identifies 22 gaps in knowledge and information, highlighting not only the complex nature of this issue but also that a continuing focus on insight and information gathering is important as we work to reduce issues and maximise the benefits.

    Knowledge gaps include details on freedom campers’ behaviour and motivations, how much they spend, and how much New Zealanders value the right to freedom camp. The research was shared with councils around the country. 

  • The Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment provides insight on freedom camping by international visitors.


Government action

TIA Chief Executive Chris Roberts is a member of the Responsible Camping Working Group, set up in April 2018 as a partnership between the government, local government and industry. 

Its July 2018 report to the Minister of Tourism set out recommendations to address some of the challenges around freedom camping.

In August 2018, the Government made $8.5 million available for immediate actions in the 2018/19 summer season. This included a Tourism New Zealand domestic campaign to encourage responsible camping. The campaign messaging aligned with the website, and encouraged people to plan their journeys, use facilities and leave no trace. 

Funding awarded for 2019/20

The Government has announced that $8 million in funding is being shared among 38 councils to continue to encourage responsible camping in New Zealand over the summer of 2019/20.

It will fund a wide range of activities, including continued provision of real time data to campers at selected campsites, the expansion of Tourism New Zealand’s successful education campaign and a project to explore zoning areas in Kaikoura District.