Why pay for campsite when we can park for free

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The behaviour of European freedom campers like Marjet Snijders and Annelies Schelstrae (right) is what mayor Clive Geddes wants banned from Queenstown. 

Snijders from Holland and Schelstrae from Belgium spent several nights in the resort last week – in their van parked on Lake Esplanade near the One Mile roundabout, conveniently near a public toilet block. 

By day they hung their washing out to dry on a chainlink fence beside the footpath. 

The pair admit they’ve spent most nights during their New Zealand travels sleeping in the van at no-go sites. They’ve parked up at official DoC campsites on just four occasions but twice didn’t pay money into the honesty box. 

“We arrived really late one evening,” Snijders explains. “The first one we couldn’t find the box and the second one we were just too lazy.” 

And besides, they say, they’ve had no hassles from authorities when sleeping on the road so why seek out camp sites that eat into their travel fund? 

“[But] it’s not that we can’t afford it, it’s that we don’t want to. If I can sleep for free why would you want to pay to stay?” Snijders says. 

Whenever they need a shower, the pair say they always ask at a campground first if it’s OK and pay a couple of dollars. 

“We’re never rude and always ask.” 

And as for calls to ban freedom campers in vans without toilets who flout the rules? 

“I don’t think they should. They should make campgrounds cheaper. It’s really expensive so you need to do illegal camping,” Snijders says. 

“It’s good to have travellers because it gives atmosphere to the city. 

“The less we spend at a campsite the more we spend in other places like the local shops.”