No tense moments with campers

By MORGAN TAIT


Despite a vast influx of campervans to Hawke's Bay, councils have reported no issues with the touring freedom campers during the Rugby World Cup.

The Freedom Camping Bill was passed in August, specifically before the Rugby World Cup began, to give councils and the Department of Conservation powers to decide where camping is allowed and to set up an infringement regime. Offenders can face fines between $200 and $10,000, for serious offences such as emptying a camper van sewage tank in a rest area.

Napier city has been fringed with hundreds of the vans since the cup kicked off, but Napier City Council parks and reserves manager Tony Billing said the tourists were trouble-free.

"There was a plethora of freedom campers around here and we all recognised there was going to be huge numbers of supporters in campervans around," he said. "Everyone recognised it was a special event in the city and made allowances for that.

"We are not undertaking anything in terms of instant fines or enforcement but we do have patrols. We are trying to build up data in the absence of any hard and fast information.

We need to know the real issues and locations before we enforce anything."

Hastings District Council communications and marketing manager Paul Evans said the council was pleased with camper van visitors and had taken a proactive approach to prepare for their arrival. "We've seen a lot of certified, self-contained vehicles coming into the region and using the facilities provided around Hastings district.

"Visitors to the region have been playing their part by acting responsibly and, as such, we haven't had any issues. It has been great to see so many people enjoying all the great things Hawke's Bay has to offer and at the same time respecting our environment."

Central Hawke's Bay District Council CEO John Freeman said freedom camping was not an issue for the rural centre. "We haven't seen it being a particular issue for us because we are not a destination as far as games go."

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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