The sight of underwear hanging from trees in Kuirau Park has a local business owner calling for changes to Rotorua's freedom camping rules.

Jasmine Adams, the owner of the Top 10 Holiday Park, said she saw washing hanging between trees in the central city park yesterday.

"I was upset more as a local than as a business owner. It was disappointing to see," she said.

"I thought it was really disrespectful to be in a geothermal reserve. To see washing and undies spread out.

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"To me it's like putting my washing on Eat Streat."

Washing was spotted hanging between the trees at Kuirau Park on Wednesday. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
Washing was spotted hanging between the trees at Kuirau Park on Wednesday. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Rotorua does not have a freedom camping bylaw.

Rotorua Lakes Council's sport and recreation manager Rob Pitkethley said different bylaws in different districts were confusing for tourists.

"The government is looking at the issue and we look forward to seeing what emerges in terms of a national approach."

Pitkethley said in previous years, the council had received about five calls a month from people reporting freedom campers.

Pitkethley said the council increased signage in some areas last year and the number of reports had been lower this summer.

Nightly patrols are conducted around the CBD.

"We take a non-regulatory approach – campers are often already gone when we get there but if not, they are spoken to, informed of available holiday parks and camping areas and moved on," Pitkethley said.

He said the call about campers in Kuirau Park was dealt with after hours.

"There is, unfortunately, always the chance that campers return even after being moved on."

But Adams said the campers were still there when she checked this morning.

Adams said there had been previous suggestions of creating a video about responsible camping alongside Destination Rotorua.

"I'm not anti-freedom camping, I'm pro-responsible camping," she said.

"This needs to be managed before it gets too out of control.

"We've got nine holiday parks in Rotorua and half a dozen freedom camping spots. There's so many facilities available, outside those areas should be managed better."

Freedom camping is generally permitted if a vehicle is self-contained. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
Freedom camping is generally permitted if a vehicle is self-contained. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Adams said she had spoken to the council about the issue and it had been responsive.

"I had a meeting with council last year to talk about the bylaw and try to encourage them to enforce one," she said.

"I do know council has put in significant research about it. I respect that research but think a lot of councils are sitting and waiting for central government to do something.

"Rotorua shouldn't wait much longer because it's only getting worse."

Destination Rotorua chief executive Michelle Templer said the concept of a "dos and don'ts" video for freedom campers had been discussed.

"Destination Rotorua thought it was a great initiative and have since had initial discussions with Holiday Parks NZ and Regional Tourism New Zealand," Templer said.

"A collaborative approach across New Zealand would ensure one clear message and also gain better reach and engagement."

Jasmine Adams says she saw people brushing their teeth using water in a bucket. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
Jasmine Adams says she saw people brushing their teeth using water in a bucket. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Templer said a key challenge would be ensuring the people who needed to get the message received it in the right place and the right time.

"The increase in visitors comes with its own set of challenges and, as has been recognised by both local and central government, one of the biggest of these is around infrastructure and the movement of visitors through the city and country," Templer said.

"This is a challenge that we will all continue to work through locally and nationally."

Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick said freedom camping had not been much of an issue this year so far and she planned to provide input into discussions being led by the new tourism minister.

She said a national approach would make things clear and simple.

"The current Freedom Camping Act is very permissive and local bylaws aren't necessarily the answer," Chadwick said.

"Active enforcement also requires considerable resourcing and even then, there's no guarantee you make a real difference because freedom campers move on."

Chadwick said the council was actively working on hotspots in Rotorua.

"The real concern is people in non-self-contained vehicles camping in areas with no toilet facilities."

Where to camp:
Boyes Beach: Vehicles with purpose-built sleeping facilities. No cars, utes, vans, tents. Costs $5 to $10.
Guy Roe Reserve: Costs $4 to $8 for campervans and tents.
Trout Pools Reserve: Free for vehicles with purpose-built sleeping facilities. No cars, utes, vans, tents.
Lake Okaro Reserve: Costs $4 to $8 for campervans and tents.
Lake Rerewhakaaitu: Costs $4 to $8 for campervans and tents.
Cheap/free DOC campsites at Lake Okareka, Lake Tarawera, Humphries Bay, Lake Rerewhakaaitu.
Self-contained vehicles at the Government Gardens, lakefront near the yacht club,