Waikato council crackdown on freedom campers

Freedom Campers, northern end Marine parade, Napier. Photo / File
Freedom Campers, northern end Marine parade, Napier. Photo / File

Waikato District Council are planning to ban or restrict areas where freedom campers can stay.

Suggestions for prohibited areas under a new bylaw include Raglan's Manu Bay reserve, Waikato Esplanade's Patterson Park and Port Waikato's Maraetai Bay Reserve.

Under the Freedom Camping Act, council can't prohibit freedom camping entirely, only restrict or prohibit certain areas.

The bylaw stated freedom camping in self-contained vehicles was allowed throughout the Waikato region except in prohibited areas.

In restricted areas, campers were allowed to stay, but conditions would be put in place.

This could include restrictions on the number of freedom camping vehicles and the maximum number of consecutive nights freedom campers could stay.

Waikato District Council acting general manager customer support Roger MacCulloch encouraged locals to provide feedback on the suggested areas.

"We'd like to know what people think of the areas and restrictions we have suggested, and if there are any other areas that you know are having problems with freedom camping."

Last month, Dunedin mayor Dave Cull said the rising numbers of freedom campers stopping at sites in Dunedin and other parts of the South Island appeared to be "unsustainable".

His comments came after more than 100 vehicles a night -- together carrying more than 200 campers at times -- descended on Warrington Domain during peak times in Dunedin.

In Queenstown itself, up to 30 people a night, mostly sleeping in cars, had taken over a privately owned lot in Park St, prompting concern from neighbours.

In December last year, the Western Bay of Plenty District Council decided freedom camping was to be banned during the summer holidays in Bowentown's Anzac Bay.

The council decided that overnight camping would be prohibited from the start of the third week of December to the end of Waitangi Weekend.

The council also unanimously agreed to further restrict where vans could park overnight for the rest of the year when freedom camping was allowed.

The council also agreed to prohibit freedom camping at Ngamuwahine Reserve, Wairoa River Reserve, Lund Rd Reserve, Waihi Beach Surf Club Reserve and Beach Grove, off The Esplanade at Omokoroa.

A list of some suggested prohibited areas in the Waikato region:

Raglan:

• Manu Bay reserve and surrounding area

• Tohora Close, Calvert Rd, Whale Bay

• Ngarunui Beach Reserve

• Kopua Domain

• Waikato Esplanade

• Patterson Park

• Horotiu Bridge carpark area

• Wainago Rd

A list of some restricted areas in the Waikato region:

• The Point, Ngaruawahia

• St. Stephens car park, Tuakau

• Onewhero Domain

- NZ Herald

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