A Far North couple celebrating the new decade in Paihia turned into unhappy campers following their discovery of "dangerous" motorhome parking at a council carpark.

Sandra Grayson and her partner turned up to the Williams Rd carpark on December 31 to watch The Feelers and see in the New Year.

The motorhome parking, which was wide and safe when they camped there last year, had changed position and was now "dangerously narrow", she said.

"We were shocked by the size of the parks", she said.

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"All motorhomes have gas operated fridges; potentially if one of them had not operated their gas correctly the whole line of us would have gone up.
"I know Paihia is a popular destination but providing dangerous parking is not good enough. Some people could not even get into their vehicles and had to wait for others to return. And in the case of an emergency how would people have been able to get out?"

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The couple, from Maromaku near Towai, have just spent three months travelling around the lower north island and the south island in their motorhome and "even the carpark in Te Papa in Wellington have a decent width."

"We've camped all over the country and have never ever seen or been in such dangerous parking. They've obviously decided they would make more money by jamming them in. The council needs to paint them out and re-do them with a wider gap – they've done them standard car width and motorhomes are wider than that."

According to the New Zealand Transport Agency's Parking Control traffic control devices manual, the requirement for standard vehicles, including cars, vans, buses and taxis is 2.5m and coaches, trucks and disable parking are all 3.5m.

A council spokesman said Far North Holdings - the council's commercial trading and asset management arm - owns the Williams Rd carpark and changed the spaces some time ago.

"It altered the length of 13 car parks to make them longer and marked them specifically for campervan use," he said.

"The width of the parks was not changed. The 13 parks were created because campervans had often used two standard carparks creating confusion and annoying other users."

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Since the change was made, the carpark use has improved, the council spokesman said, "especially on busy days".

There are 13 carparks for campervans in the Williams Rd carpark in Paihia. Photo / file
There are 13 carparks for campervans in the Williams Rd carpark in Paihia. Photo / file

New Zealand Motor Caravan Association chief executive Bruce Lochore said there is a 3m minimum requirement between spaces at commercial campgrounds.

This was created to avoid overcrowding, "so people aren't camping on top of each other".

But most public carparks have standard sizes as there are "measurements they have to use", he said.

"Their primary purpose is carparking, and freedom campers get the opportunity to use it when cars aren't there at night. We should say thank you. If they don't feel comfortable, there are alternatives."

The New Zealand Motor Caravan Association has 46 carparks around the country which have a 3m gap.

Lochore reminds campers they should have an electrical warrant of fitness, and gas certification checks regularly done by qualified registered tradespeople.