Freedom Camping MOU between TCDC and NZMCA

We have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the NZMCA in a joint campaign to other achieve three specific goals in raising the standards of Freedom Camping

The three goals in the MOU are:

1. Promoting the simple, consistent approach that Freedom Camping in New Zealand on Council-Controlled land should be strictly limited to certified self-contained vehicles only.

2. Promoting the creation of a "Higher Endorsed Standard of Self-Containment Certification." NZMCA is the major certifying agency for the current Self-Containment Endorsed Standard. A "Higher Endorsed Standard of Self Containment," would mean vehicles with toilets on board that aren't available for practical use at all times would no longer meet NZMCA standard.

3. Encouraging the motorhome rental industry to voluntarily play their part in protecting the environment by assisting Councils in the collection of infringement fines for errant freedom campers.    

Two major issues have become apparent to both our organisations - one is the difficulty for councils like ours to collect infringements from people who hire motorhomes or campervans, who then leave the country. The other is working to improve the Endorsed Standards of vehicles equipped with toilets for practical use at all times within a vehicle.   

Freedom Camping Infringements.

As part of its MOU, TCDC and the NZMCA will now be lobbying local and central government, the tourism sector as well as the rental motorhome and campervan companies, with a recommendation that when an infringement notice is issued to a motorhome or campervan hirer, councils can immediately issue a duplicate copy to the rental company that owns the vehicle. This way the rental company has a record of the fine when the hirer returns the vehicle and it can be collected from them at that point - before the hirer leaves the country.

Our Council is seeing far too many international renters leaving the country without paying an infringement and it's also cost prohibitive for us to collect the fine once they return home,

This is an issue that’s already under review by many councils, as it puts in jeopardy the Freedom Camping Act’s effectiveness as a deterrent to visitors breaking the rules while freedom camping. 

Improving Standards of Certificated Self-Contained Vehicles.

As part of the MOU, TCDC and NZMCA will be now also be working together towards ‘lifting the bar’ on self-containment standards by establishing a "Higher Endorsed Standard of Certified Self Containment.  This will ensure that ill-equipped ‘bottom end’ vehicles can no longer to be certified as self-contained. 

Specifically NZMCA have advised its nationwide network of 300 Self-Containment Officers that only vehicles that are equipped with toilets that are deemed to be in available for practical use at all times within the vehicle will be certified to the Higher Endorsed Standard..

Both NZMCA and TCDC will now continue discussions with central government and the motor camping industry about raising the current standards for certified self-contained vehicles.

What the MOU sets out to achieve.

This joint approach between TCDC and the NZMCA is a significant statement of intent from both parties and a major step forward in helping protect the right to freedom camp, respecting community interests, protecting environments and acknowledging the benefits that certified, self-contained camping brings to regions.

This is showing some leadership between our Council and the NZMCA to achieve a sustainable outcome. Local and central government, the rental campervan companies and the tourism industry can help us take responsibility now and be part of the solution.

This MOU is a blueprint for how other councils, the tourism sector, the NZMCA and other campervan rental companies can partner,