Call for freedom camping in Napier

By Lawrence Gullery


Freedom campers are hoping Napier will follow Wairoa's lead in opening up the city to allow motorhomes to stay overnight.

Tararua, Central Hawke's Bay, Hastings and now Wairoa all have areas for freedom campers with just Napier the only place in the region missing out on the tourist dollar coming from this particular visitor industry.

Napier City Council was reviewing its policy on freedom camping following a hearing on the Government's Freedom Camping Act 2011, which aimed to curb the misuse of non-designated campsite areas.

New Zealand Motor Caravan Association's Hawke's Bay committee member Ron Carswell presented a submission to the hearing in November and hoped to hear a decision from the council early this year.

"Napier came up with a bylaw about a month ago but there were a few objections to that and it was withdrawn," Mr Carswell said.

"As far as I know the council is going back to have a look at the whole thing again.

"Like Napier, Wairoa District Council had a total ban on freedom campers but it is now allowing overnight stays in designated areas and that's something that is gaining momentum."

Napier Mayor Barbara Arnott previously said motorhomes were allowed to stay in the city free of charge but only for a single night.

At least one letter to the editor, and comments by Mr Carswell disputed the mayor's view and they still considered Napier to have "a blanket ban" for motorhomes.

Mr Carswell said he hoped Napier would align itself with the changes its neighbours had made. It included Hastings' title as New Zealand's first "Motorhome Friendly Town", as decided by the association's national annual rally held in Hastings in 2010.

"This is an international tourism opportunity for the whole of the East Coast really," Mr Carswell said. "Tourism is quite an industry in Hawke's Bay and the motorhome aspect of it I believe is underestimated."

He said he also thought the term "freedom campers" should be redefined to provide separation from those using tents to camp, for example.

"Freedom camping brings up pictures of people throwing up tents but really if you take a motorhome, it is fully self-contained, with its own water, ablution and cooking facilities. All you are doing really is parking up," Mr Carswell said.

He said it could not say exactly how many association members of other freedom campers visited Hawke's Bay each summer but it was among the top sites in the country.

"People like coming here for all the tourist things, the coffee shops, the beaches, they top up their groceries, fuel. I can't understand the mentality which suggests we're getting something for nothing, when people are spending when the come into town to visit."

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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