Timely warning for freedom campers

By Lawrence Gullery

Hawke's Bay is likely to be a big drawcard for freedom campers this summer and the Department of Conservation is asking for people to take note of new laws which govern where people can stay overnight on conservation land.

DoC said under the Freedom Camping Act, it had posted warning signs which would clearly identify prohibited camping areas and also indicate sites available for self-contained campervans to stay overnight.

DoC's Neil Clifton, who is managing changes to the Freedom Camping Act, said it was a good time to have clarity around the issue before the holiday season.

"While opportunities abound for freedom camping on public conservation land there are also some restrictions that ensure that everyone gets to enjoy special places in a pristine condition rather than spoiled and soiled from misuse.

"We want people to get out and enjoy our natural heritage but we also want them to camp responsibly."

Mr Clifton said the initiative would encourage responsible camping and benefit New Zealand's clean image.

"While we are encouraging people to enjoy their camping we also have to be prepared for transgressions, so where we encounter non compliance, we can impose a $200 instant fine. Hopefully we can avoid having to do that."

Places where freedom camping was available to self contained campervans in Hawke's Bay included Balls Clearing scenic reserve (Puketitiri), road end carpark; Monckton Scenic Reserve (Kaweka ranges), carpark; Shine Falls (Tutira) road end amenity area and Boundary Stream, between Napier and Wairoa.

Other sites included White Pine Bush Scenic Reserve, carpark; Tangoio Falls, carpark; Mohi Bush (near Waimarama), picnic area and Elsthorpe Scenic Reserve, carpark.

DoC's Hawke's Bay office wanted to remind freedom campers there would be extensive recreation work this summer on track and bridge areas of Tangoio Falls, starting from the carpark site.

Gazette notices identifying places where camping was prohibited and where it was restricted to self contained vehicles were now on the DoC website: www.doc.govt.nz/freedomcamping.

Copies of notices were available for viewing at all conservancy area offices and DoC visitor centres.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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