It's more likely to be untidy locals than visitors littering and disrespecting facilities, a freedom camper who has been travelling around Hawke's Bay says.

Freedom camping is under the spotlight as summer approaches, with moves afoot to tackle issues with camper behaviour as well as the number of campsite locations across the country.

In Napier over the weekend, a number of campervans were parked up at the site on Marine Parade near the bike pump track.

One visitor was Peter Skoludek - a Welsh Kiwi from Hamilton who for the last three weeks had been touring Hawke's Bay.


He praised the region's facilities he had visited, saying they were well looked after by the council and other campers.

In his experience, he said problems often arose with locals rather than visiting travellers.
"Whenever there's a mess it's often locals that are causing the problem.

"I have been to various camp sites and despite being labelled as messy the freedom campers and tourists are responsible - they tidy up after themselves, unlike the locals."

Lew Shadbolt was parked up at the same site and agreed that the facilities in Hawke's Bay were excellent.

"They have gone out of their way to have great toilets and car parking, and there's enough sites that you can move around."

Local Government Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga has commissioned a joint working group to improve the effectiveness and reliability of the local bylaws system, specifically looking at freedom camping.

"Last year nearly 44,000 international visitors went freedom camping while they were here," Mr Lotu-Iiga said.

"I am expecting to see some real improvements in the way freedom camping is managed and regulated as a result of this working group. With freedom camping season approaching this is a priority."

The working group's findings were expected to be released at the end of this month.
In addition, the tourism industry, local government and other groups have agreed to look more closely at how freedom campers behave.

Campervan companies were working with local bodies to collect fines and a campaign to better educate freedom companies was likely.

Tourism Industry Aotearoa chief executive Chris Roberts said most campers - both New Zealanders and international visitors - obeyed the rules and acted responsibly.

"There is no single fix to the management of freedom camping. A strong regional focus, providing good information and adequate infrastructure, backed by enforcement measures, remains the best approach," he said.

Napier mayor Bill Dalton said people who didn't respect public property and public facilities could be either local or travellers.

"We have a responsibility to provide places for freedom campers to park - in fact it's a requirement.

"What we are trying to do is to find the appropriate balance between providing facilities for freedom campers while respecting the rights of ratepayers.

"We haven't got it right yet but we will do."

He added that members of the Motor Caravan Association were responsible citizens who not only cleaned up after themselves but often litter left by less responsible travellers and uncaring locals.

The most contentious freedom camping issue in Hawke's Bay in recent times has been in Napier where the council is currently consulting on a new bylaw that would change one created in 2014.

The new proposal would prohibit freedom camping at Westshore Beach Reserve and McLean Park, and remove the Northern Ocean Spa carpark as a restricted site.

About 13 submissions had been received on the proposal prior to the closing date of October 28, with oral submissions due to heard near the end of November and a final decision made in mid-December.

At the northern end of Marine Parade, Fishbike Bike Rentals owner Brian Fisher said he missed the freedom campers who were no longer allowed to park there.

"We didn't really get any business from them, but they provided life and activity at this beach and they were always clean and tidy."