A New Zealand law that allows you to defecate in public unless you think no one can see you needs to be tightened. That’s what a campers’ association says after being named as the cause of most human excrement in nature.
It is currently a crime to defecate or urinate in public, but the $200 fine can be avoided if the person can show they have reasonable grounds to believe they were not being monitored.
The Responsible Camps Association argues that people must demonstrate that they operate their businesses at least 50 meters from waterways and that waste is buried at least 15 cm deep. Bob Osborne, a spokesman for the group, said: “It’s not a very worrisome act, but the consequences are visible.
The group has been arguing since 2017 that camps should not be targeted, but people who behave badly. Wild camping has made headlines in recent years because of concerns about its impact on the environment, particularly campers’ personal waste.
Local media regularly report that wild campers are linked to an increase in faeces and toilet paper at popular tourist spots, while some city councils have chosen to ban campers altogether in hot spots.
Friction between campers, locals and the government reached a peak in late 2020 when Tourism Minister Stuart Nash told national broadcaster RNZ that wild campers were “putting vehicles on the side of the road and defecating in our waterways”.
Osborne said it was wrong to blame wild campers for the country’s public health problems. “There is no evidence to link any particular group to this unsavory practice.” The group believes that reducing the “most unwanted consequences” is the most appropriate way to deal with the problem in the short term, but more toilet facilities for passengers is the best long-term solution.
In 2021, Nash announced that the government would crack down on wild camping, including higher fines for misbehavior and tighter restrictions on where campers are allowed to park. Regulations for this will be tabled in Parliament this year.
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