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New Zealand

Stuck: New Zealand toilet law could mean end of road for New Zealand van dwellers

W.When Bastian van Druten moved new zealand Coming from Holland about seven years ago, his first big purchase was a van. He spent his week in the driveway transforming the HiAce into a livable home on wheels. Tightly packed into a few square meters of double mattresses, wardrobes, cabinets and hidden gas hobs, the design combined ingenuity with a willingness to sacrifice creature comforts.

For months he and his partner traveled around the country, visiting small towns, waking up to surf and eat breakfast. he says. The country’s isolated coastlines and natural landscapes suddenly became accessible and affordable.

But for Van Druten and hundreds like him, this season could be the last summer of cheap and accessible ‘van life’. Anger over the unsanitary behavior of some campers has targeted them, and a new law passing Congress this year could mean the end of an era for many retrofitted vans. , would require the installation of a free-standing plumbing toilet that many say is too bulky to fit into existing vehicles.

“It will limit the types of tourists that can travel to New Zealand,” says Van Druten. “As you know, the bigger campers are too expensive.”

“Not part of our global brand”

For years, New Zealanders and international visitors, especially young, adventurous and on a tight budget, have embraced the van life, converting vans into DIY campers and hitting the highway to get off the beaten track. I’ve been looking for lonely places and isolated places. beach. With remote laptop-based work on the rise, an ever-growing cohort moved into vans for long journeys, documenting trips, with wanderlust-themed photos waking up to pristine sunsets and rooftop yoga. , shared tips for modding vehicles. Driven by social media and word of mouth, Freedom’s number of campers has grown from just tens of thousands in the early 2000s to over 250,000 in 2019, according to New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. surged to

But about five years ago, Freedom Campers in New Zealand came under heavy public scrutiny. This comes after a series of media reports that locals told stories of tourists in vans berming and defecating on the beach. The story sparked a storm of anger against the Freedom campers, making them political targets. Tourism Minister Stuart caught the eye of his Nash. “They park on the side of the road and shit in our waterways,” the minister infamously said in 2020, calling for a total ban on campers without self-contained toilets. It’s not who we are, it’s not part of our global brand and I don’t think it’s the kind of tourist that New Zealanders would like to see in our country.”

Inside Bastian van Druten's van
Owners of small vans say installing a plumbing toilet is too cumbersome given the size of the vehicle. Photo: Bastian van Druten

The new rules have progressed through the selection committee stage to a second reading, where they have received cautious support from all major political parties.

“There may be creative ways to do it [plumbing in a toilet]But you’re wasting a third of the space or something on the toilet,” says Van Druten. “So, if these new regulations really happen, all small vans will basically write off for tourists and van life.”

The government has so far said it was unfazed by the plight of these small vans and said they could always pay to use the campsites if they wanted to travel.

“There are hundreds of campgrounds and campgrounds,” Nash said. “They are happy to welcome all travelers, no matter what type of vehicle they have.”

While most parties broadly support the bill, some parties have expressed concerns about who might get caught in the bill. The majority of New Zealanders will not be able to get accreditation,” opposition MP Todd McCrae said during a debate on the bill. “New Zealanders with responsible campervans drink good wine, travel around the country and see the sights. In fact, it costs them a lot.”

That cost is highest for New Zealanders who have adopted vans as an affordable vacation option. Growing cost of living crisis and affordable housing market.

camper parked on the beach
There are concerns that the proposed law could push out smaller vans in favor of larger vans that are out of reach for many. Photo: HDKam/Getty Images/iStockphoto

The driving force behind small-town tourism

Like many young New Zealanders, Auckland high school teacher Jasmine Peate-Garrett has been saving for years to build a house. With New Zealand’s runaway housing market falling short of that goal, she decided to buy a van. This is a retired volunteer ambulance that was gradually converted into a travel camper. “I was going to buy a house, but it never really happened. I put that money in a van so I could do something or travel,” she says. “I’m a teacher and I’m on a tight budget. [but] It has allowed me to do quite a few things that I couldn’t do otherwise. ”

This summer, she drove through the sounds of the West Coast and Marlborough, visiting family and friends along the way. He says road trips shouldn’t be limited to full-size campers that can accommodate a toilet.

“We need to make it accessible so that New Zealanders can visit these lovely spots.”

For Van Druten, he objects to the implication that van life is worthless as a tourist.

“It may be less money, but more spread,” he says. That’s where the van life ends up. ”

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/feb/11/bogged-the-toilet-laws-that-could-spell-end-of-the-road-for-new-zealands-van-lifers Stuck: New Zealand toilet law could mean end of road for New Zealand van dwellers

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