Freedom camping is made easier

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A new smartphone app to help freedom campers find the nearest camp spots and toilets is being marketed in Queenstown. 

Christchurch technology hotshot Adam Hutchinson has developed the free app called CamperMate, which detects a user’s location and pinpoints nearest facilities like rubbish bins and public loos. It also highlights the closest petrol and police stations plus hospitals. 

Hutchinson, who’s been spreading the word about CamperMate by driving around New Zealand tourism hotspots and cooking up free bacon and eggs for travellers, says it has more than 6500 GPS coordinates loaded into it. 

The CamperMate managing director stopped in Queenstown late last month and says his idea has the support of the Responsible Camping Forum and the Government’s Department of Conservation. 

“Up until now there’s been a real barrier to people accessing this sort of information which is one of the reasons I believe we’ve seen a negative impact on the environment so far. 

“It’s about making it easier for people. A lot of them, I think, want to be responsible campers but on the other hand they’re like ‘Well, if it’s not easy for us to be responsible then in some cases we’re just not gonna be’.” 

CamperMate follows the website www.rankers.co.nz’s introduction of an interactive map called I Respect NZ showing more than 500 freedom camping locations and 1000 camping areas. 

A new law means freedom campers overnighting in the wrong spots can now be hit with $200 instant faces.