Like many of you, I’ve just been camping.
What is truly special about camping in New Zealand is our campgrounds and the fact that we have so many of them in such magical spots.
But like any other business they have to be viable to survive and if the number of campers dwindle then the campgrounds start to become simply valuable real estate.
So now we have freedom campers. A generation of travellers taught to expect that accommodation is an unnecessary expense and for the price of a cramped sleep and the dubious ambience of a public carpark they can see the country on a two-minute noodle budget.
Freedom camping is fine in the wilderness. It’s inappropriate anywhere else.
I freedom camped once. No tired van, just me and my sleeping bag on a beach in Japan. I didn’t brush my teeth, charge my phone, toilet al fresco or cook noodles and commandeer carparks but I still feel bad because it felt disrespectful. Like wearing muddy boots inside.
I don’t know if today’s freedom campers carry any guilt around in their overstuffed vans but it wouldn’t seem so and nor should they when they’re being so generously provided for.
I was no shining light in economics class but I did pick up that if somebody expects a service for free then someone else has to pay. If we start losing campgrounds because they aren’t being used the price is too high