Insights into freedom camping in Selwyn

by Kent Caddick

The typical freedom camper who visits the Selwyn district is German, under 30 years of age and in search of eco-tourism attractions, but knows little of the district.

That’s according to a just released Selwyn District Council freedom camping report which has been commissioned as part of an investigation into whether the council needs to develop a freedom camping bylaw.

The report outlines where freedom campers in Selwyn came from, what their motivations for staying in the district were, what they spent their money on, and what their level of satisfaction with reserves and facilities was. 

Council chief executive David Ward said the report will be used to help develop future policy and processes for managing and providing facilities for freedom camping in Selwyn.

He said the report showed that freedom campers offer unique opportunities for the district.

“Young freedom 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 said.

That appears to be needed as one of the insights the report provided was that the freedom campers knew little about Selwyn and the tourist experiences on offer, while Christchurch and Banks Peninsula were more popular tourist destinations.

Between January 25 to February 17 this year, 400 freedom campers were randomly selected to complete a questionnaire. Both domestic and international freedom campers were included in the research.

The interviews were conducted at popular sites including Chamberlains Ford, Coes Ford, Lakeside Domain and Whitecliffs Domain.

Of those interviewed, 84% were international visitors, of which 47% were German and 14% French, while most were aged under 30 years with the majority falling in the 18 t0 21 year age bracket.

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, with Chamberlains Ford and Coes Ford the most popular destinations.

Many of the surveyed freedom campers said that any savings made on accommodation went towards experiencing local attractions.

The full report can be viewed on the council website,