MOTORISTS flouting parking regulations in Whanganui have racked up nearly $300,000 in unpaid fines.

According to the Whanganui District Council there is $287,863 in outstanding parking infringements accumulated in the 12 months to February this year.

Bryan Nicholson, council's regulatory and customer services manager, said all unpaid fines were lodged with the Whanganui District Court for collection.

"The council doesn't use a debt collection agency for parking fines. They're lodged with the district court and from there the court's collection units are responsible for the recovery," Mr Nicholson said.

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He said at the moment the council was receiving about $25,000 a month from the collections unit recovering historic parking fines.

Mr Nicholson said recovering fines can include wheel clamping a vehicle, seizing property or making compulsory deductions from income or a bank account.

"In cases where people clearly can't pay a fine and enforcement action is not viable, they may be brought back in front of a judge to have their fines replaced by an alternative sentence."

He said it wasn't known how many parking fines have been written off by the court.

"The court might replace fines with an alternative sentence such as community work. On these occasions the council doesn't recover any debt." Whanganui's court has one of nine associated collection units around the country chasing unpaid parking tickets.

But Whanganui's total of unpaid fines is overshadowed by more popular tourist centres such as Queenstown where that council has more than $1 million owed to it.

Regulatory staff there said while those living in New Zealand can be chased up through the courts it was almost impossible to get payment from overseas visitors.