Residents of a small Marlborough community that has rallied against freedom campers plan to have a "massive party" after the council agreed to close a camp site in their bay.
Marlborough's freedom camping rules changed again on Friday after a quick vote at an extraordinary meeting.
It was the fourth time the Marlborough District Council had changed its freedom camping bylaw, now called the "responsible camping control" bylaw, in almost 14 years.
The region had flip-flopped between banning freedom camping in all but some parts of the region and allowing campers everywhere except certain sites.
Friday's vote put an end to camping at all but five of the council's camping sites, and required visitors to be self-contained.
The decision was a major win for Double Bay residents Kathryn Omond and Maggie Curteis, who pleaded with councillors earlier this year to close the bay's freedom camping site, saying tourists defecated in their gardens.
The new bylaw would close three proposed campsites and eight existing sites – including the one in Double Bay.
It would be in effect from Tuesday, in time for summer.
The pair, who watched councillors make a unanimous vote within 15 minutes, said residents of Double Bay would have a "massive party" to celebrate the decision.
"We're just beyond thrilled... Finally, they have listened and acted on what their ratepayers want," Omond said.
Curteis thought other councils would follow Marlborough's lead, and pick up its "forward thinking".
The Villa Backpackers Lodge Picton owner Rob Burn, also in the audience, said councillors had done "a great thing".
"[The new bylaw] echoes the community's wishes.
"I know there may be legal implications... but it always irked me that people could have free holidays here but when we went overseas, we couldn't do the same thing."
The five open sites were Blenheim's Wynen St carpark; the Taylor Dam, south of Blenheim; the Renwick Domain; Lake Elterwater, north of Ward; and the Wairau Diversion.
The remaining five sites could take 120 vehicles a night.
Campers could still park up at commercial campgrounds or at more than 50 Department of Conservation (DoC) campsites, for a fee. Councillors were told Marlborough had the most DoC sites out all of New Zealand's regions.
Councillor David Oddie, who chaired the freedom camping sub-committee, said Marlborough first introduced a freedom camping bylaw to show the region was campervan-friendly, and this would not be changing.
Changes to the bylaw were promised following a landslide of submissions against freedom camping during last year's annual plan, mirrored again this year.
But most of the five sites still had legal challenges to face. Two violated national reserve rules, which the council was resolving, and four of the five were waiting on resource consents to make camping there legal.
That did not deter those around the council table, with 10 councillors and the mayor supporting the bylaw. Two councillors did not show up for the vote, and councillor Barbara Faulls had to sit out due to a conflict of interest.
Councillor David Croad pointed out most of the sites being closed were small, allowing for between four and six vehicles, "but we know they were used for more".
But several submitters backpedalled during hearings in September, asking for proposed sites at Picton High St, Picton Memorial Park and Ward Domain to be pulled.
Oddie said submitters had three common points: "That the council's policies should reflect the values that choose to live in our district, not those who choose to visit our district; council's bylaw is creating a culture of 'free' and 'cheap'; and, that it's hard to blame the campers when council's bylaw policy is enabling the problems."
Councillor Gerald Hope said the new bylaw was a "re-imagination" of what Marlborough's tourism looked like.
"The reset value is that Marlborough has high-value tourism and that people need to pay their fair share."
Councillor Mark Peters said the bylaw was "outstanding".
"It's clear, concise, logical. It follows an understandable thread and reaches an inarguable conclusion in my view."
Proposed freedom camping site changes:
Wynen St carpark – open to one-night stays
Renwick Domain – open to two-night stays
Lake Elterwater – open to two-night stays
Wairau Diversion – open to two-night stays
Taylor River Dam – open to two-night stays
Picton High St carpark – proposal pulled
Picton Memorial Park – proposal pulled
Ward Domain – proposal pulled
Brown River Reserve – closed
Ohauparuparu Bay – closed
Koromiko Recreation Reserve – closed
Alfred Stream Reserve – closed
Ohingaroa Bay Reserve – closed
Double Bay Reserve – closed
Anakiwa Village Green – closed
Blairich Reserve – closed