Freedom campers will be allowed to pitch their tents at specific sites around Whangarei under a proposed new Whangarei District Council bylaw.

The council is accepting submissions on its Camping in Public Places bylaw which outlines sites around the district where self-contained and non self-contained campers can and can't stay.

This new bylaw follows the council's proposed Freedom Camping Bylaw which prohibited all non self-contained units. That bylaw was scrapped last year after public feedback.

The council received 107 complaints about freedom campers between Labour Weekend 2016 and Easter Weekend 2017.

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Of these, 22 complaints related to the Onerahi Foreshore area, 16 to Ruakaka Beach Reserve and seven to Parihaka Lookout carpark.

The Bascule carpark is a popular spot for freedom campers. Self-contained and non self-contained vehicles will be permitted to stay here for one night under the new bylaw. Photo/Michael Cunningham
The Bascule carpark is a popular spot for freedom campers. Self-contained and non self-contained vehicles will be permitted to stay here for one night under the new bylaw. Photo/Michael Cunningham

The main concerns were the inappropriate disposal of human waste, grey and black water and solid waste, a reduction of the amenity value of the area and a lack of understanding of camping "rules".

Under the new bylaw camping would be prohibited at 28 sites, including all sports parks, the Onerahi Beach Reserve from Cliff St to Johnson St and Elliott Reserve off Ewing Rd, in Riverside.

A group of 16 sites are defined as "restricted areas" where self-contained campers are either restricted to a designated site or to a marked parking space and can stay for one night.

Bland Bay, Beach Rd Reserve at Onerahi, Ruakaka Beach Reserve, the Whareora Rd carpark at A H Reed Memorial Park, Ocean Beach carpark and Whangarei Falls Scenic Reserve are all among the sites on the restricted list.

Camping in non self-contained vehicles is allowed in 20 areas, within 50m of a 24/7 public toilet. These include A H Reed Park, Urquharts Bay, One Tree Point and McLeod Bay.

Nine locations, within 50m of a 24/7 toilet are available for all types of camping, including tents. These include Kowharewa Bay, Manaia, Parua Bay, Waipu Caves, Whananaki North, and Woolleys Bay western carpark.

Campers can stay for one night at each of these sites. On all other public land in the district, campers in self-contained vehicles can stay for a maximum of three nights.

A group of friends from Waihi Beach spent Monday night in self-contained vehicles at the Bascule carpark at the Port Rd end of Te Matau A Pohe bridge.

They all agreed they wanted to see the bylaw strictly enforced.

"They need to tighten up on non self-contained ones, they make us look bad and we get punished as well," said Lynn Denize.

Bernard Holmes said if non self-contained campers don't stay within the designated area and follow the rules, then they should stay in motor camps.

Kathy Wallace said the one-night stay should be extended to two.

"People spend money in the town if they've got two nights."

The Northern Advocate spoke to another freedom camper, who did not want to be named, at Elliott Reserve behind the Whangarei Aquatic Centre, which will be a prohibited area under the new bylaw.

She supported non self-contained campers being banned from the site, because she has heard people urinating in the nearby bushes during the night.

However she felt self-contained vehicles should still be allowed at the site.

Submissions close on August 4. To send a written submission or to register for the more informal "have your say" event email mailroom@wdc.govt.nz