Report: Freedom campers offer unique opportunities

PRESS RELEASE: Selwyn District Council

The typical freedom camper who visits the Selwyn district is German, under 30 years of age and in search of eco-tourism attractions, according to a Selwyn District Council Freedom Camping Report.

The report which has been publicly released, has helped to define where freedom campers come from, what their motivations for staying in the district are, what they spend their money on, and what their level of satisfaction with reserves and facilities are. It also looked at the activity’s impact on the environment. Both domestic and international freedom campers were included in the research.

The report will be used to help develop future policy and processes for managing and providing facilities for freedom camping in Selwyn.

Council chief executive David Ward says the report shows that freedom campers offer unique opportunities for the district.

“Young freedoms campers come to Selwyn for quality, free accommodation but also to enjoy natural attractions, independent tramps, and wildlife encounters – we live in a beautiful part of the world and we should spread the message,” Mr Ward says.

Between January 25 to February 17 2017, 400 freedom campers were randomly selected to complete a questionnaire. The interviews were conducted at popular freedom camping sites including Chamberlains Ford, Coes Ford, Lakeside Domain and Whitecliffs Domain.

Of those interviewed, 84% were international visitors. Of those visitors, 47% were German, and 14% were French. The report also highlighted the average length of stay in New Zealand is 5.5 months with the average stay in Selwyn district being just one week.

During a visit to New Zealand, the main expenditure per person/per week for a freedom camper was on fuel ($100), groceries ($56) and accommodation ($27). Any savings made on accommodation went towards attractions.

The full report can be viewed here. Some of its key findings are:

– 84% of sample were international visitors from 26 different counties.

– Most were German (47%) and French (14%).

– Most under 30. Majority of age was 18-21 years.

– Chamberlains Ford and Coes Ford were the most popular destinations.

Freedom campers were attracted to Selwyn by:

– The proximity to Christchurch (Selwyn closest alternative).

– Excellent reviews of facilities.

– Influenced by apps, eg CamperMate (71%).

Other reasons for staying in the district:

– Trying to avoid ‘hassle’ of booking accommodation.

– Dislike rules associated with hostels and paid campgrounds.

– Enjoy spending time in nature/rural environments.

– Highly cost conscious.

– Conserve money for attractions.

Other insights:

– Many knew little about Selwyn and the tourist experiences on offer.

– Christchurch and Banks Peninsula are more popular tourist destinations.

– Main interests are: natural attractions, independent tramps and wild life encounters.

Freedom camper self-perceptions:

– They were familiar with the term ‘freedom camper’.

– They knew the term had negative connotations.

– They mainly associated with other international visitors, and ‘grey nomads’ (older independent campers).

– Grey nomads are unhappy about negative association/connotations.

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