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Increasing calls to tighten New Zealand law that allows ‘public pooping’ if no one is watching

A camping club in New Zealand has urged the government to change the regulations that enable individuals to defecate in public if they believe they are not being monitored. They want the rule reinforced because of long-running charges that campers are to blame for a surge in faeces and toilet paper pollution in famous tourist locations.

Defecating or urinating in a public area (other than a public restroom) is an offence under the law, but if the individual can demonstrate that they had reasonable reasons to believe they were not being watched, they may be able to avoid a $200 fine. ‘There is no law in New Zealand that requires a person to poop their pants if they are caught short, and RCAi believes that minimising the more undesirable aftermath would be the most appropriate way of addressing the problem in the short term,’┬áthe Responsible Campers Association Inc (RCAi) told local news channel Newshub.

According to the RCAi, the rule should also compel persons to demonstrate that they performed their business at least 50 metres away from a waterway and that the waste is buried to a depth of at least 15cm. It has also urged the NZ Transport Agency, Waka Kotahi, to provide additional toilet facilities beside state highways as the best long-term option. The freedom camping movement has been in the headlines in recent years due to environmental concerns, particularly about campers’ personal garbage.

The freedom campers are frequently accused of urinating in public and littering with toilet paper in tourist areas. Some municipal governments have decided to prohibit campers from using hotspots entirely. Tensions between campers, residents, and the government escalated in late 2020, when tourism minister Stuart Nash told RNZ that freedom campers in non-self-contained RVs ‘pull off to the side of the road and… defecate in our streams’.


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