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New Zealand Freedom Camping Gets Tech Boost

New Zealand Freedom Camping Tech Boost

New Zealand Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis has announced a package of new and expanded technology and other tools, which will encourage responsible camping and help communities and local councils better manage freedom camping this summer.

Background of the Initiative

According to a recent press release, the Government has been investing to improve the freedom camping experience for everyone.

This is because they want to support the regions to thrive and the country to benefit from sustainable tourism growth.

Back in August, the Minister announced funding of NZ$ 8 million to 38 local councils in order to support a wide range of activities, which include education and enforcement projects, ambassador programmes, as well as temporary facilities.

Technology will reportedly play a part in managing responsible camping this summer.

In line with that, the Minister announced the continued progress being made in this space, with a package of innovative technology and other tools in place this year.

These technologies bring together the projects that the Responsible Camping Working Group and councils have done in readiness for summer.

The Technologies and Initiatives

The technology pilots are as follows:

  1. Ambassador App

The new Ambassador App will help responsible camping ambassadors, who are employed by councils, to provide information and advice to campers.

They will also be able to record the number of vehicles at sites, which can be used for reporting purposes.

Around 20 councils have already signed up to use the app.

  1. A new zoning pilot for Kaikōura District

A new zoning pilot across the Kaikōura district will show campers where they can and cannot camp.  The zones are colour-coded and available to campers via the CamperMate app.

  1. AI solar-powered cameras

An expanded pilot of AI solar-powered cameras will monitor capacity at a minimum of 10 camping sites.

Campers using the CamperMate app will see in real-time whether the campsite they are interested in is full.

This was successful last year, with 90% of people who checked a site’s availability ended up choosing another site when their first choice was full.

Aside from the aforementioned technology pilots, there are other initiatives as well. These are:

  1. Free access to the self-contained vehicle standard, saving users around NZ$ 70 each.

Local councils, campers and those who fit-out self-contained vehicles can easily see what is required for certification as a self-contained vehicle.

  1. Tourism New Zealand’s successful education campaign from last year has been expanded.

It encourages campers to stay at sites that have facilities and includes materials for all councils, Regional Tourism Organisations and i-SITES to help guide camping behaviour.

  1. Research is being commissioned to understand the number, profile and value of New Zealanders and international visitors, who are freedom camping this summer.

The Minister is confident that with all these things in place, councils, communities and campers have everything they need to have an enjoyable summer.

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