If you hear van life and remote areas, which region of the planet do you think about?
Many of us will imagine New Zealand’s coast line and how beautiful it must be to spend days or weeks driving to the most idyllic spots. Yet, camper life might change for those who use it in the most affordable way.
New Zealand’s government is considering a law that will require campervans to have a plumbed-in toilet installed, and van lifers aren’t happy. Many van lifers opt for smaller vans that don’t have the space to install a permanent toilet. The new regulations would require stand-alone plumbed toilets that many say are too big to be fitted into their existing vehicles.
For years, New Zealanders and overseas visitors have embraced the van life and converted vans into DIY campers, but for many van lifers, this season may be their last. Fuelled by social media and word of mouth, the number of freedom campers ballooned, from the low tens of thousands in the early 2000s to just over 250,000 in 2019.
However, about five years ago, New Zealand’s freedom campers began to come under fierce public scrutiny after a series of media reports that locals relayed stories of van-borne tourists defecating on their berms and beaches. The government has so far been unmoved by the plight of those smaller vans, saying they can always pay to use campgrounds if they wish to travel.
While most political parties broadly support the bill, some have raised concerns about who will get caught up by the legislation. That cost will be greatest for New Zealanders who have adopted vans as an affordable means to holiday amid a growing cost of living crisis and an unaffordable housing market.
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