A carpark in Bowentown has been picked as the location for a freedom camping facility offering basic utilities on a pay-per-use basis.
The Western Bay of Plenty District Council announced plans today to put the new KiwiCamp facility at the Seaforth Rd carpark.
The Seaforth Rd carpark site was already designated under the council's freedom camping bylaw, has good access to the beach and cycleway network and has water, power and sewerage connections nearby, according to a written statement from the council.
The council will install the facility which is a pay-as-you-go, relocatable, prefabricated building with toilets, dishwashing and laundry facilities, showers, access to potable water, waste and recycling areas, device charging and wireless internet, the written statement said.
The building is hoped to be ready for the 2019/20 summer season, subject to appropriate consents being obtained.
The council carried community consultation on possible locations for the facility in addition to its engagement on the 2019/20 Annual Plan during April/May.
The KiwiCamp initially planned to be set up at the Waihi Beach Community Centre but community opposition to this location led to council reconsidering the location options.
There was overwhelming support for the facility to be put at the Seaforth Road carpark following further community consultation.
The facility is planned for installation by the end of November. Council will review the effectiveness and use of the facility after the summer season.
KiwiCamp is among initiatives funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to help councils reduce freedom camping complaints and to encourage responsible, enjoyable travelling for campers, both domestic and international.
According to the written statement, the council was one of a select few in New Zealand to receive the one-off grant of $340,000 to improve facilities and monitoring for the increasing numbers of freedom campers in the District.
The KiwiCamp facility cost $200,000 and the balance has been used for Smart Bins and security monitoring.
There are 47 freedom camping sites across the district governed by the council's Freedom Camping Bylaw which requires all freedom camping to be in self-contained vehicles.
The council employs a security firm from October to March to monitor and ensure compliance with the bylaw.