Local authorities want to slap freedom campers who set up house in places they should not, or leave behind litter, human waste or smouldering camp fires with instant fines.
They are drawing up a policy enabling officers to fine such campers.
Umbrella organisation Local Government New Zealand says an education campaign about camping in non-designated spots, aimed at both domestic and international travellers, has failed.
One of its advisers, Simon King, says the time has come to get tough.
"It's about people being in the places that they're not meant to, doing things that they shouldn't do; and that the cost of repairing that damage falls on communities that have no way of recovering that cost. It's about equity."
Mr King says breaching the current littering and parking bylaws incurs comparatively small fines.
It has not been decided how much the new fines will be, but the policy will be in place before the 2011 Rugby World Cup begins, he says.