More than 150 fines have been issued to people breaching freedom camping rules in the Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty areas over the festive season.
From December 11, 2017, to January 21, 2018, a total of 104 complaints were received by the Western Bay of Plenty District Council and the Tauranga City Council and a total of 156 infringement notices were issued.
In Tauranga, there were 66 complaints about freedom campers at 35 locations. The complaints resulted in 136 fines. In the Western Bay, 48 complaints were received and 20 fines were issued.
A Tauranga City Council spokeswoman said the top locations for offending freedom campers were at Papamoa Beach Rd, Marine Parade, Oropi Rd and Pacific Ave.
Western Bay locations where the fines were issued included Anzac Bay, Tuna Ave, Bowentown Domain, Seaforth Road Reserve, Island View Reserve, The Esplanade, and Waihi Beach Surf Club.
Western Bay council compliance and monitoring manager Alison Curtis said fines of $200 were issued where there was failure to comply with instructions of council contractors and breaches of the council's bylaw.
Fines were given for camping in prohibited areas and for camping in permitted areas in vehicles that were not self-contained, she said.
New Zealand Motorhome Caravan Association members Julie and Pat O'Sullivan are annoyed people were ignoring rules and giving freedom campers like themselves a bad rap.
"That makes the rest of us angry," Mrs O'Sullivan said.
"It's the people who aren't self-contained that are the problem but we all get tarred with the same brush and it's not on."
The retired couple were parked at Mount Maunganui's Marine Parade on Friday afternoon to be near their daughter competing in the weekend's surf lifesaving champs at Main Beach. They were booked in at a camping spot in Tauriko for that night.
It was the ease of such mobility that was a big attraction to freedom camping, Mrs O'Sullivan said.
"You can go anywhere you like basically but we get turfed out because people think we will make a mess but it's the young ones in vans that seem to be the problem."
The couple has owned their self-contained campervan for 12 years and been all over New Zealand in it. They would not dream of travelling anywhere without such necessities, she said.
"We are from Taupo and it's a big issue down there," Mrs O'Sullivan said.
Mr O'Sullivan said there seemed to be an anti-motorhome element in New Zealand which he felt was unfair.
"They call us white slugs on the road but we, legally, have to travel at 90km/h, the same as trucks. We always pull over and let people piled up behind us past," he said.
Freedom camping - What are the rules?
Western Bay of Plenty District Council and Tauranga City Council bylaws state only campers with self-contained vehicles can lawfully park in freedom camping areas and it must meet the Caravan Self-Containment Certification Standard.
The unit must be able to be lived in for three days without getting more water or without dumping waste. It must have a toilet, freshwater storage and wastewater storage, she said.