The librarian and the freedom camper

Freedom campers seem to be a something of a New Zealand invention.  They are tourists who avail themselves of the opportunity to camp in areas where they do not have to pay.

We have loads of books on camping in general, but if you want to know more about freedom camping, there is unfortunately remarkably little info available. Sure Lonely Planet Books and Rough guides mention it and, in quite a teacherly way, remind us all to be good boys and girls and clear up our rubbish when we leave. The only reference book is entitled Freedom Camping: The problem of human waste disposal.

Librarians interface with tourists every day, helping them with their photocopying, printing, visa applications, holiday bookings and directing them to places and facilities.

If you are the overseas parent or friend of one of these young people, and worry that they may be forgetting you – Fear Not – for they seem driven by the need to connect to the internet in our libraries, and conduct long Skype calls to you. These calls make them happy.

As sure as night follows day, most of them will go back home. There they will extol the beauties of New Zealand, the kindness of the people and the lovely librarians. Some of the people they talk to will be older, and they too will think of coming to visit this beautiful place. They will board planes and visit New Brighton Library and Central Library Peterborough because that’s where their kids went. Then they will book into hotels and take bus tours and spend foreign currencies.

Pier from New Brighton Library
New Brighton Library view of pier. Flickr 2014-03-IMG_0136-New-Brighton

So I’ve come to think of freedom camping as a bit like paying it forward – a bit of an investment in our tourism future. Am I being disingenuous here?

Freedom camping links

3 thoughts on “The librarian and the freedom camper

  1. raewynwyn 19 January 2016 / 11:19 am

    I applaud you for connecting everything back to libraries in interesting ways. I am particularly interested in your remark that Freedom Camping is unique to New Zealand – maybe the term but is the concept also? Is it because we are seen as a ‘safe’ country where the water is potable everywhere and the people are nice? Has anyone any experience of non-New Zealanders Freedom Camping in other parts of the world?

    • alinaccl 19 January 2016 / 1:50 pm

      Most Scandinavian countries have a sort of “right to access” law where you can camp on uncultivated land as long as you’re not disturbing anyone and clean up after yourself.

    • robertafsmith 19 January 2016 / 7:12 pm

      I think it is just the term – campers worldwide probably do versions of this – especially in rural areas. I do think it is quite peculiarly Kiwi that we have this sort of camping in cities, but I stand to be corrected on that!

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