Freedom campers again in spotlight as tourist caught pooing on grass verge

A freedom camper caught on camera defecating on a suburban street has been tracked down and fined $400 thanks to a vigilant Motueka local.

Pacey Grooby came across the offending pooer naked to the waist and squatting on the grass verge near his home in the Nelson Tasman town.

“It was about 9:40pm on Friday night … I saw this man bent over on the side of the road about a house or two away from mine, and I thought this is a bit weird,” Mr Grooby told Stuff.

“So I turned around and went over towards him and put my lights on him and there he was with his pants completely off taking a dump.”

Grooby recorded the man’s actions on his phone, asking him what he was doing what he was doing, to which the tourist replied “I’m just s…ing”.  Grooby told the tourist “that’s disgusting”, and the German replied “yeah”.

After leaving the scene, Grooby decided he needed to do something about it, and returned to search for the tourist.

“I chased after him … and got his number plate. I spent the whole day on Saturday hunting through freedom camping zones in the area but could not find him,” he told

“As weird as it is, I woke up [Sunday] morning and looked out my window and there he was. Parked up, freedom camping on my street directly outside my house. He then got out and started urinating on the footpath.”

Grooby called in Motueka community board chairman Brent Maru, who arrived with a Tasman District Council enforcement officer to issue a $400 fine – $$200 for defecating in a public place and $200 for breaching freedom camping bylaw. The tourist was told by Maru to clean up his mess.

The incident has again raised the spectre of freedom camper behaviour in the Nelson-Tasman region, which employs peak season freedom camping ambassadors in tourism hotspots to inform visitors of expectations and regulations.

A spokesperson for Tasman District Council told the NZ Herald: “This behaviour was disappointing on a number of counts including that of common decency.

“As a community we have invested in enough infrastructure to ensure the environment and our residents do not have to experience such actions. Regardless of the person doing it, this action goes beyond what any community will tolerate.”

Brent Maru told Stuff New Zealand’s reputation as a place where people could stay without paying was “just a crazy message”.

“We’ve now got vehicles that aren’t self-contained, in streets sleeping, because that’s the message we’re sending internationally … it’s beyond fathoming,” he said.

“We don’t see there’s a place for freedom camping in non-self-contained vehicles in Motueka.

“The behaviour of that person, that I’ve seen is a minority; but the message we’re sending is that if you come to this beautiful part of the country, there has to be an expectation that you’re willing to pay something, and there are cheap options in camping grounds where there are toilets.”

Grooby told : “Our town is truly fed up [with] these dirty tourists leaving our town a mess and taking it for granted.

“We have public toilets and rubbish bins everywhere in our town. And they still do this.”

Under freedom camping laws, only vehicles with an on-board toilet can park in areas reserved for ‘self-contained’ campervans. Fines range from $200 to $10,000 for mismanagement of waste.


Kate Jackson

Kate Jackson is the editor of Accomnews. You can reach her at any time with questions or submissions:

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