Board wants campervan ban

Campervans would no longer be seen on New Zealand roads if the Otago Conservation Board has its...
Campervans would no longer be seen on New Zealand roads if the Otago Conservation Board has its way. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
The Otago Conservation Board wants a national ban on the use of campervans and will lobby the Government to get its way.

However, opponents of the fledgling movement have labelled calls for the blanket ban "ridiculous" and "absolute lunacy".

Freedom campers have been condemned frequently by community leaders for the mess and human waste they leave on roadsides and at scenic parking spots around the Queenstown Lakes district and Otago.

Discussions during a meeting of the Otago Conservation Board at Tarras yesterday centred around the issue of freedom campers, the mess they create and the companies that rent campervans to tourists.

[comment caption=Should campervans be banned in NZ? Or is the idea ridiculous? Send us your thoughts.] Board member David Holdsworth, of Portobello, said the companies renting freedom campervans to tourists needed to take some responsibility for the mess their customers created.

He called for a licensing scheme which would make the rental companies responsible for the actions of those who hired campervans.

Residents and ratepayers were the ones who picked up the bill for travellers and the mess they left behind in local communities.

Andrew Penniket, of Wanaka, took a more severe approach.

He called for a national ban on campervans.

Freedom campers contributed "very little" to local and regional communities.

"They spend hardly anything, anywhere," he said.

Rental companies were mainly foreign-owned, with profits going overseas; and the vehicles clogged up the country's roads and highways, he said.

"Personally, I'd ban campervans altogether from New Zealand.

"The whole country would be better off without them," Mr Penniket said.

Automobile Association tourism head Peter Blackwell said a general call to ban campervans in New Zealand was "absolute lunacy".

Calling for such a blanket ban was "ignorant and nonsensical" and would affect New Zealand's tourism industry, he said.

However, more could be done when travellers arrived and hired campervans to make them aware of New Zealanders' expectations, Mr Blackwell said.

Australian-based Wicked Campervans director John Webb said the move was "ridiculous".

"Any attempt to outlaw campervans would have a disastrous impact on the nation's tourism industry."

New Zealand Motor Caravan Association general manager Dave Lockie said domestic owners of motorhomes were being unfairly grouped in with rental campervans.

Nearly all association members' motorhomes or campervans had self-contained facilities.

Association president Dick Waters said the call for a ban was "narrow-minded" and unfairly targeted New Zealand's internal tourists.

Campervan rental companies had a "cavalier" attitude to waste management and he called for legislation to better regulate that industry.

Otago Conservation Board chairman Hoani Langsbury said the board needed to raise the issue at a national level.

Board members voted unanimously to draft a letter to their Department of Conservation superiors calling for the Government to ban campervans.


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