Freedom camping has been a growing issue in many New Zealand towns, cities and rural areas over the last few years as successful tourism campaigns bring more people to our beautiful country. In 2017, Yardstick parks benchmarking included questions about freedom camping to get a sense of what the impacts are on Yardstick members and local authorities in general.

Of the 24 councils surveyed, 87% provide areas for the use of freedom campers in parks, car parks and other council property. Areas are most commonly provided for freedom camping in rural parks (67%), with urban parks and public car parks close behind (around 50%).

Most councils provide freedom camping areas for self-contained vehicles only, with only a few providing areas for vehicles and tents that are not self-contained. Only two members have no restrictions on self-containment.

Only two councils provide no facilities at all for use by freedom campers. The facilities most commonly provided are toilets (75%), wastewater dump station (62%), refuse collection (54%) and potable water (42%). A few members also provide showers, cooking shelters and dishwashing facilities.

Only one council has managed to secure funding from the Regional Mid-sized Tourism Facilities Grant to develop facilities required to support an increase in tourism numbers. A third of councils surveyed are planning to build additional facilities to cater for freedom campers, but only two are applying for a government grant to develop these facilities. The remainder will be funded by ratepayers through the LTP.

Almost all operational expenditure on the facilities used by freedom campers is ratepayer funded, with only 3 members applying any user charges for the facilities.

It’s pretty clear from these results that freedom camping is having a financial impact on local authorities, with ratepayers having to foot the bill for the majority of the additional demand that freedom camping places on parks and facilities.

What impact is freedom camping having on your organisations and finances? Would you like to know how other Council’s are managing the demand? Just contact us at

MoST Content Management V3.0.7437