Cameras to keep an eye on NZ freedom campsites

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New Zealand free camping problems
This AI solar-powered camera monitors Cooks Beach in the Coromandel allowing campers to use an app can to see when the site is full. PIC:

Artificial intelligence and solar-powered cameras are among the high-tech tools that are being trialled in New Zealand as ways to combat some of the negative impacts of freedom camping.

Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis has just announced a suite of measures designed to encourage responsible freedom camping, and to help councils manage travelling tourists.

This summer, at least 10 camping sites will be furnished with the artificial intelligence (AI) equipped solar-powered cameras, allowing campers to see if a campsite is full in real-time through a special app.

The website,, reports that technology is being piloted as part of the broader $8.5 million package first announced in August, which also included temporary council facilities, education and enforcement projects, and camping ambassadors.

Mr Davis said the Government’s efforts have substantially reduced the freedom camping problem and he expected a reduction in complaints this summer.

“The ambassadors were probably the most effective tool for educating, giving information and doing things in a friendly Kiwi sort of way,” Davis said. “Rather than using the big stick, it was more about encouragement, sharing information and being helpful, and we found that that was the most effective tool we had in the kit last year.” reports that freedom camping has frustrated local authorities in recent years as crowds of motor-home and van-dwelling travellers descend upon scenic areas to camp, forgoing locations with facilities like toilets and rubbish bins.

A Government-appointed working group has been trying to determine fixes to problem freedom camping, beginning with a PR-blitz informing campers of New Zealand’s environmental values, and moving campers on from places they shouldn’t be. It will also start using the term ‘responsible campers’ instead of ‘freedom campers’.

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5 Responses to Cameras to keep an eye on NZ freedom campsites

  1. Freedom camping and spy cameras, surely there is an oxymoron there somewhere.

  2. They would probably last about a week in the Australian bush.

  3. Not such a bad idea. At first it seems like invasion of privacy cameras but if not doing anything wrong nothing to worry about.
    However it is often the local residents who make a mess not visitors, see it all to often here in oz where locals ruin it for all.

  4. I like the idea of referring to them as responsible campers as opposed to freedom campers but generally even the ferals believe they are responsible. I see no problem having these cameras installed because it’ll not worry those who do the right thing but will force the recalcitrants to move out of view. I have been very saddened to see some of our beautiful camping spots absolutely trashed by no hopers. Toilet paper and crap just dropped outside the van door or the tent. This initiative may also encourage the decent campers to also report the trouble makers. I am all for protecting the environment and keeping places open for considerate people to utilise.

  5. Problem is over here in NZ there is just too many of the freeloader types in there` wizz bang` small vans /people carriers . Our country with such a small population, cannot support or hasn`t the proper infastructure to cater for them all ,hence ongoing hassle . A lot of popular places to stop/camp are jut overun with the buggers .Self contained stickers(false) bought over the internet and slapped on are a joke Wether the recently announced tourist tax of $35 will deter them ,i dought it . Should treble it and it might cull a few out .

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