For years holidaymakers in New Zealand have enjoyed the privilege of being able to camp pretty much wherever they like without fear of being moved on by the authorities.
This has been an essential ‘right’ for anyone wanting to explore the remote areas of the country. When the nearest designated camp site is 30 miles away there is often no alternative but to bunk down in the middle of nowhere.
Walkers (or trampers as Kiwis call them) on the Great Walks have for years kipped in their campervans at the beginning of the main trails, where the road ends and the footpath begins. Visitors to remote beaches and peninsulas have pitched their tents on the shoreline, waking to no more than the sound of gulls and waves.
Freedom camping at its best.
But is all this about to change?
Whilst most campers are responsible and ecologically aware there is a growing minority it seems who are damaging the land and spoiling things for others. A minority leaving behind waste, polluting waters, chewing up the terrain and generally making an environmental nuisance of themselves.
In response the New Zealand Government passed the Freedom Camping Act in August 2011 to try to address the problem.
So what does this mean for campers?
Well, if you abide by the rules and act responsibly then the answer is carry on camping.
The specific change as a result of the new law is that camping is now prohibited within 200 metres of a road or trail head and within 200 metres of a low water mark (lakes, rivers, coastal areas, harbours).
But the main thrust of the message from the authorities is to act responsibly, leave no waste and look after the environment.
And who can argue with that?