Thursday, November 18, 2010

They Call It Freedom Camping

Kiwis call what we are doing "freedom camping".  It's essentially camping outside of motorhome parks and designated campgrounds.  We do it for many reasons.  Number one, it's free, but just as important is that we aren't packed into a small space next to another campervan.  Most of our freedom camping has been in amazing locations overlooking an ocean, a river, or the mountains.  Inevitably we've had to "park up" (that's another Kiwi and Aussie saying) on a neighborhood street or in a paved parking lot.  The last time we had to do that, the Christchurch earthquake shook us awake at 4:30 am.

In populated areas, freedom camping is frowned upon.  Part of the reason is because there are so many rental campervans roaming the small country from December - March, and they all seem to "park-up" in the same locations.  It doesn't take long to learn that the beaten path is not the best place to find peace and quiet.  Locals blame trash and "human waste" on freedom campers.  We take huge issue with this accusation as all of the freedom campers we've ever seen are more likely to pickup garbage than leave it.  I think those McDonalds bags, empty cigarette packs, and beer bottles are probably from the local kids enjoying their secret party spot.  In fact, this past Friday, we were awakened at 1:30 am by a car full of people throwing their beer bottles over the cliff into the vegetated sand dunes above the ocean.  In the morning, the parking lot was littered with garbage from the Friday night partiers.

One of the more beautiful camping spots we've had recently

When we are in populated areas, finding a good camping spot takes some patience and ingeniuty.  We usually spend time looking at maps, riding around on our bikes, walking the area, or hiking to a lookout to scope things out.  Our general requirement is that we aren't in view of any houses, we have some sort of a view (sunset, ocean, nestled in a forest, etc), and that it's quiet, without any threat of hoons (punk ass Kiwi kids) waking us up in the middle of the night (that's the hardest requirement to meet).  Bonus points for a flat spot, light winds, and no trains.  Generally, we park in a public location -- never on someone's private property.

No comments: