More than $140,000 worth of freedom camping fines have gone unpaid in Tauranga City.

The Tauranga City Council issued 971 infringements under the Freedom Camping Bylaw in the last financial year - and of those fines, only 258 have been paid.

In a report presented to the Tauranga City Council's Community and Culture Committee, 334 of the issued fines were waived as the offenders could not be located, particularly overseas visitors, and 379 fines were being processed through the courts for non-payment.

The fine for breaching the Freedom Camping Bylaw was $200, which meant $66,800 worth of freedom camping fines had been waived.


Team leader of parking and bylaws Stuart Goodman said an infringement notice was issued to a vehicle, not a driver.

"If a fine is not paid within 28 days, a reminder notice is issued. An overseas visitor who has not paid their fine has most likely left the country by this time," Goodman said.

He said New Zealand did not currently have the legislation to enable a rental car company to on-charge a freedom camping fine like they could for a speeding fine.

"This issue has been raised by the Responsible Camping Working Group," he said.

Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless agreed the main issue was that there was no legislation to enforce overseas travellers paying infringements issued by the council.

Brownless said The Government allowed freedom camping but local councils had little power to enforce infringements which "seemed unfair".

"It's a classic case of an issue being lumped on to councils and we are expected to pick up the tab," he said.

Brownless said there were positive aspects to freedom camping in the region but questioned how much value those who did not abide by the rules brought to the city.


The report also showed an increase in compliance since the council began issuing infringement notices in June 2017 and the number of complaints had decreased.

In the last financial year, 310 complaints were received from the public regarding freedom campers, which was a 16 per cent drop compared with the same time frame the previous year.