Queenstown thinking of fining Wicked $300 per public disturbance

Queenstown is looking to fine Wicked Campers over offensive slogans on the company’s vans.

The local council wants to be able to use an existing district plan rule – normally used to regulate signs on buildings – to issue $300 fines when the campervans are seen displaying lewd or sexually explicit signs.

The company’s controversial slogans sparked numerous complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority, and Tasman District Council is also investigating banning Wicked Campers vans from its campgrounds.

Queenstown-Lakes District Council chief executive, Mike Theelen, told Nine to Noon the camper van slogans had changed in recent years from being clever and funny to offending more and more people and it would be good if the council could encourage Wicked Campers to change its behaviour.

“We’ve … asked for a list of their signage so that we can give them advice (as to what) would be determined to be sexually explicit, lewd or otherwise offensive.”

But Wicked Campers had indicated they did not agree with the council’s plan and had not provided any information.

In the mean time, tourists at the wrong end of this have had to create their own solutions.  This van was seen around Northland some days ago. 


photo: whaleoil.co.nz

“There are lots of campervan companies out there, a lot of colourful campervans out there. We’re not trying to crush that part of the market but we don’t necessarily want, as a community, to have that unpleasantness in our face every time a Wicked Camper rental drives by,” Mr Theelan said.

If the rule could be enforced, the council would issue an infringement notice against the company, not the occupier or driver of the vehicle. If that went unpaid it would then follow a process similar to an unpaid speeding ticket, where it would be referred to the district court.

It would be the first time a New Zealand council had decided to crackdown on the Australian company using a district plan rule.

It will be interesting to see if the court will back the council, as the legislation for building signs are attempted to be applied to moving and stationary vehicles.

Similarly, how many times can you fine the same vehicle? Every time it is observed?  Every the public lays a complaint? Every time you blink?

These are definitely unchartered waters.




THANK YOU for being a subscriber. Because of you Whaleoil is going from strength to strength. It is a little known fact that Whaleoil subscribers are better in bed, good looking and highly intelligent. Sometimes all at once! Please Click Here Now to subscribe to an ad-free Whaleoil.

  • Second time around

    Sounds like the wild west, with every tin pot jurisdiction and its sheriff policing the local bylaws. There are bigger things out there, like hanging up the varmints who rob tourists.

    • kereru

      That too, not instead.

  • HunuaRanger

    Censorship via fines? Next thing you know they’ll be billing TVNZ for allowing lewd words to be broadcast (M. Scorsese ‘The Wolf of Wall Street used the word F#%k 569 times) can you imagine the revenue TPTB could generate.
    All these people getting offended, won’t someone think of the children?

    • kereru

      Films have a rating and the viewer can choose to see them or not – or parents can watch when their children are in bed.

      There seems to be no control over these slogans some of which are not even clever, just crass. Why should the vast majority of our tourists who hire cars or campervans have to follow a van with a crude slogan plastered over its rear doors – sometimes for kilometres if unfortunate enough to encounter them on a narrow winding road? I believe this trend is part of the ‘up yours’ mentality which has infected our society.

      • HunuaRanger

        I suspect the branding of the company and use of “offensive” remarks and “snow white” imagery is precisely part of an ‘up yours’ attitude, I guess I’m not that easily offended and if I saw one of these vans on the road I’d be more interested in safe driving and keeping the two second rule than being outraged, reading aloud whatever slogan was “offending” me and then explaining what those nasty words meant to a 5 year old who was inquisitive.

        • kereru

          I think the word ‘outraged’ is somewhat overstating the case. I’m not outraged at all, but find it an unnecessary distraction which is, or can be, quite offensive – especially to women who don’t enjoy being thought of as ‘an attachment screwed to the bed’, or similar. Why are the slogans always at the expense of women, not men?

          I can’t imagine any responsible parent with children in the car would read such a thing out loud. Children can read these words for themselves at the age of 6 or 7, or even earlier in some cases.

          • HunuaRanger

            Well we could talk about sexism and the history of feminism but really the topic is how can a local body council enforce fining a van company $300 over signage on a van and who is going to decide if such signage is “offensive” in the first place.
            As for the 6 or 7 year old child reading said signage, it’s all about comprehension rather than the actual words themselves.

        • Skydog

          I’m not outraged either, but what I don’t want to do, is explain to my five year old daughter what a b***w job is, like the van in the picture. Yes the van has been tapped up, but there are others with the same type comments.

          • HunuaRanger

            I guess I’d probably say something like “a b**w job is what happens when mummy gets her hair dried at the hairdressers” or something similar.

          • willtin

            You will lie and obfuscate then?

        • CoNZervative

          Yeah but some of us get sick of having it thrust in our face day-in and day-out for the sake of some smarmy anti-estab “branding”

      • luke

        I honestly wish I could upvote you more, few of us say enough about the infection of our society. It’s a creeping infection.

      • Oh Please

        What really annoys me is the arrogance of the company. They claim freedom of expression while at the same time riding roughshod over my freedoms. If you want to see crass, ignorant slogans like this go start a club indoors somewhere or start a website. It’s the same with boobs on bikes, and I see a current TV ad using the word ‘piss’ – using the door opened by Toyota’s ‘bugger’. Each of these denudes more morals from society.
        I’m guessing Sharia law wouldn’t stand for it.

  • willtin

    There is no argument.
    Would you get away with that crap on WO? Absolutely not.
    If you can’t see the problem with the Van-dalism, I suggest you are at sorts with the majority of commenters here.

    • luke

      Couldn’t agree more, WO banned profanity and low grade comments for the better of this community and the future of this blog. While I have a ‘potty mouth’ I conform on here because I want to remain part of it. It’s called being considerate, something Wicked doesn’t care about because of the cheap publicity they receive, I say fine them big $$$$.

    • Nige.

      I can swear with the best of them but there is a time and place.

      And it’s not in front of my kids when I’m driving them from ‘a’ to ‘b’ with their grandad in the car.

      The standard you walk past is the standard you accept. If people want to live in a place where smut replaces wit then I suggest they go live somewhere less beautiful than this country.

      • KatB

        You’re right. Next, are we going to be okay with vans driving around showing hardcore porn video clips all the while we’re banning car ads because they show somebody slipping over on a boat ramp? What we’ve come to deem acceptable on one hand while thinking something else is outrageous has become quite skewed.

      • CoNZervative

        GREAT POST! Do we want used tampons on the beach?

  • Isherman

    The issue here is who exactly gets to decide what is ‘offensive’ and what is the threshold of acceptability, because it all becomes a bit subjective. Two different people may have two different ideas on what constitutes offence, so I cant see this plan being straightforward at all.

    • willtin

      You are a man.

  • Mr_Blobby

    I think that the wingers need to get a life

    What next a fine if you fart in public

    • XCIA

      Absolutely! It should be covered by the new Health & Safety Act under unauthorized toxic emission discharges.

    • CoNZervative

      Labour Gumint tried to tax that!

  • Fuglybud

    With free speech comes offence. I’m offended that some tin pot local body protector of others’ sensibilities is even considering some law that will ban these signs.
    PS.. just had two weeks holiday driving around SI with mrs and particularly had eyes open for wicked campers. The only one I thought came near to being offensive to me was met with a wide grin from wifey.

    • willtin

      And what did your children think of it?

    • LesleyNZ

      And along with free speech comes responsibility. My little grandson is starting work out what words are. I don’t want him to read the filthy minded words and phrases that are on some Wicked Campervans. The one above is a good example. Good on Queenstown Council. Wicked Campers need to redo a lot of their vans.

    • Monty’smate

      Presumably you didn’t have children or grandchildren with you- or maybe you just don’t care about their being sexualised at a young age. Nothing to do with ‘free speech’ matey and everything to do with what is appropriate for children to see. Parents may indeed not be offended by such signs but responsible parents have a responsibility to protect their offspring. You’d take them to an R18 movie would you in the name of ‘free speech’?

    • CoNZervative

      So no freedom of speech for Queenstown Council?

    • J Ryan

      True Fuglybud. But where do you set the line? Would you be relaxed if the words were graphic, showing a BJ in action?
      I’m no prude, but when I see these vans with their crude trash it offends me. I got a daughter coming of age and they have enough problems navigating through these years without viewing these slogans. And so diminishing the boundaries of what is acceptable and what is not. It undermines what you are trying to teach them, good ethics. I say they are crossing the line and Wicked Campers get out of our country if your moral compass belongs in the realms of public crudeness.

  • M C Chinaman

    It’s obviously not as bad as a ‘gypsy boy’ reference. That got a $40,000 fine.

  • CoNZervative

    Have always hated the WICKED van-dalism: it’s like getting condoms in my Hell pizza! We used to call it “manners” or “decorum”

    • Kevin

      What’s to stop the council from using the same law to fine protestors for holding “John Key sucks” signs?