KiwiCamp is the brainchild of young businessman and entrepreneur, Chris Wagner from Blenheim. Chris owns and operates Riverlands Roadhouse, a truck stop designed to cater for drivers in the heavy transport industry.
With ample parking, a 24/7 café on site and access to toilets, showers, and laundry facilities this spot became increasingly popular with young freedom campers looking for somewhere inexpensive and secure to spend the night.
The influx of this new type of customer presented many challenges for Chris but, rather than asking campers to move on, he put considerable thought, time, and money into coming up with a way to meet their basic security, hygiene and social needs.
He wanted something durable, affordable, environmentally responsible and simple to use.
Chris and his fiancé Kamila met while freedom camping so they have a clear understanding of what a camper’s needs are, and together they opened the first KiwiCamp at their Riverlands Roadhouse site in March 2017.
KiwiCamp and KiwiCash were born.
Who is the other face in the picture? That’s me, Claire Barlow. Formally the Mayor of the stunning Mackenzie District – a popular tourist destination that was grappling with the negative impacts of the growing freedom camping demographic.
I firmly believed that the solution to the problems we were facing lay in finding a way to manage the needs of these visitors while charging them a reasonable fee to do so. Not driving them out of our towns and making them feel unwelcome.
I met Chris in 2016 while the idea for KiwiCamp and the KiwiCash payment system were still being formulated, and immediately saw the huge potential for his idea to transform the freedom camping experience, not only for visitors but for councils and local communities as well.
I was invited to join the team and spread the word, and here we are – Team KiwiCamp!
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