Blocking the entrance to a reserve beside Lake Hawea popular with freedom campers was done by a young American man "concerned for the environment" - with help from a local farmer.

Last week, Richard Burdon, of Glen Dene Station, complained about the way campers treated the Craigburn area, north of Glen Dene on State Highway 6. Land Information New Zealand (Linz) says Craigburn is not a designated freedom camping area.

Yesterday, he said the university student, who flew back to the US yesterday, was in New Zealand on a three-month internship.

The pair were heading up the road with a tractor when the student suggested they block the entrance with gravel and debris. "I said yes, why not? I lent him my tractor," Burdon said.

Advertisement
The entrance to a popular Lake Hawea freedom camping site was blocked by a pile of gravel and debris. Photo / Kerrie Waterworth
The entrance to a popular Lake Hawea freedom camping site was blocked by a pile of gravel and debris. Photo / Kerrie Waterworth

The reserve entrance had also been blocked by members of the Hawea community in 2010. Burdon said there was widespread support for the latest barrier.

"Until such time as we get some action from the Crown and some legislation changes on how we're going to manage 3.5 to four million tourists, I would urge communities to stand up."

If they did not want to do that, he urged them to write to Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage and request urgent changes on how such areas were managed.

"[Freedom campers] don't care, whereas we all care because it's the place we take our families to picnic and to fish and there's native birds nesting down there and they are destroying habitat," he said.

Deputy chief executive Crown property Jerome Sheppard said Linz had been working "constructively" with local community members and other agencies to manage unofficial camping issues around Lake Hawea, which was a popular destination for visitors and locals but had no areas designated for freedom camping.

Because of its popularity, a toilet was installed at Craigburn, which was maintained by Linz, and signs would be installed soon to remind people that it was not a freedom camping area.

However, because the reserve was also popular with the local community, the public should not be blocked from accessing it. Another problem was there was now no space for visitors to stop beside the highway if they wanted to visit Craigburn Reserve.

The dumping of gravel and debris at the site would be investigated and Linz would also meet the Lake Hawea Community Association to discuss the issue.