Auckland Council is planning to roll out the welcome mat to tens of thousands of freedom campers at some of our most popular beaches and parks.

The proposal, thought to include hundreds of sites, has sparked concerns about toilets, alcohol consumption, bad behaviour, conflict with residents and daytime parking pressures.

In some parts of New Zealand there have been complaints of freedom campers littering and defecating at park-up sites.

Auckland councillors have asked for a bylaw to manage freedom camping under a 2011 national law which aimed to open New Zealand up to it, unless there were good reasons for restrictions.


The council is playing catch-up to Wellington and 10 other local bodies which have implemented bylaws under the Freedom Camping Act.

Auckland Council officials are writing a bylaw to permit travellers for 13 sites - including Dudding Park Sports Field at Northcote Point, Rosedale Park and 11 places in Rodney - where people will be able to free-camp in cars and other "non-self-contained" vehicles.

At a further 94 sites, which includes Western Springs Reserve, Fowlds Park in Mt Albert, Eric Armishaw Park in Point Chevalier, and Stanmore Bay Park, travellers would be allowed to park if their caravan or campervan is self-contained. That includes having a water tank, a toilet and a wastewater tank - and a certificate to prove it.

A maximum stay of two nights per four weeks is proposed, or one night during busy periods.

Freedom camping will be banned at more than 300 sites, including at Coyle Park, Point Chevalier, Fort Takapuna Reserve and Bucklands Beach Domain.

This leaves potentially hundreds of parks where the only controls on freedom camping would be "general rules" that are expected to permit only self-contained vehicles, or case-by-case restrictions that might be sought from the Government under the Reserves Act. However, use is expected to be low if they are not promoted for freedom camping.

Two of those are Phyllis Reserve in Mt Albert and Akoranga Reserve in Northcote.

"A number of local boards expressed strong views opposing freedom camping and requested more sites, and in some instances whole local board areas, to be scheduled as prohibited," council officers say in a report to the regulatory committee.


"This approach would not comply with the legislation."

The Freedom Camping Act doesn't permit a blanket ban; any restrictions have to be in proportion to perceived problems.

The new Auckland Supercity bylaw would replace a mish-mash of bylaws inherited from the previous city, district and regional councils that generally imposed a simple ban on camping unless it was specifically permitted in certain areas.

Travellers would be allowed to park at Western Springs Reserve if their caravan or campervan is self-contained. Photo / Supplied
Travellers would be allowed to park at Western Springs Reserve if their caravan or campervan is self-contained. Photo / Supplied

Peter Haynes, chairman of the Albert-Eden Local Board, said it was opposed to freedom camping in virtually all the area's parks.

Excluding 20 road verges considered parks, Albert-Eden had "in effect 80 parks".

The board's main concern was there should be no freedom camping until the council's enforcement of bylaws is beefed up, Haynes said. There were already problems with dog control and drinking in defiance of the alcohol ban at Eric Armishaw Park.


"We would like to see freedom camping restricted to just a few parks rather than [permitted in] just about every park. We can't properly police freedom camping if it's spread across probably a thousand parks across Auckland - the ones that aren't prohibited or restricted."

He urged people who were concerned about the planned bylaw to make submissions to the council.

The officers' report notes freedom camping "is a controversial issue" and that some communities will be unhappy with the planned bylaw.

Some 110,000 international visitors engaged in freedom camping in New Zealand last year, up from 60,000 in 2015, according to the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment.

The council ran a pilot study of freedom camping last year and found about 320 vehicles a night stayed at the permitted sites. More than two-thirds of freedom campers were international tourists.

Within proposed freedom camping sites, council officials want the power to designate specific areas for camping that are "near toilets and rubbish bins to encourage use".


And they recognise that an unintended consequence of the bylaw could be to displace homeless people living in vehicles, saying, "A humane approach to enforcement will assist in minimising this risk".

Freedom campers have caused havoc across New Zealand in the recent years.

In January it was revealed that Queenstown council staff and members of the public were being forced to pick up human waste being left by freedom campers who were choosing to do their business in trees and bushes, rather than on-board or at public facilities.

In May Dunedin woman Michelle Budge spoke at a community meeting about her concerns around campers at her local park.

She had seen freedom campers urinating at the domain and others washing their dishes in rock pools.

One one occasion her dog went into the bushes and rolled in human faeces.


In February a Christchurch woman became outraged after a freedom camper washed her underwear in a public drinking fountain in the North Beach car park.

In 2012 tourism operators in Taupo said freedom campers were ruining the pristine environment around the lake by urinating and defecating in public and bathing naked.

Freedom campers who urinate and defecate in public and bathe naked in Lake Taupo are ruining business and a pristine environment, say local tourism operators.

The proposal

Auckland Council officers are planning for four categories under a freedom camping bylaw:

• 94 sites where freedom camping would be permitted in certified self-contained vehicles, including:

Albert-Eden Local Board Area
Western Springs Reserve
Fowlds Park in Mt Albert
Raymond Reserve in Point Chevalier
Eric Armishaw Park in Point Chevalier


Franklin Local Board Area
Centennial Park in Waiuku
Clevedon Showgrounds Reserve
Clevedon Wharf Reserve
Glenbrook Beach Boat Ramp Reserve
Hamiltons Gap West Coast Road, in Awhitu
Hudsons Beach Recreation Reserve
Jack Lachlan Drive Esplanade Reserve
Maraetai Dressing Sheds Reserve
Matakawau Point Reserve
Orere Point Beach Reserve
Recreation And Parking (aka Colson Lane), in Maraetai
Rosa Birch Park
Sunkist Bay Reserve
Tamakae Reserve
Te Toro Reserve
Waiomanu Reserve, or Magazine Bay
Waiuku Service Centre and Kevan Lawrence Park
Whitford Point Reserve

Hibiscus and Bays Local Board Area
Gulf Harbour Marina Hammerhead Reserve
Hatfields Beach Recreation Reserve
Stanmore Bay Park
Victor Eaves Park

Howick Local Board Area
Barry Curtis Park - parking area off Chapel Road, St Pauls area
Eastern Beach Caravan Park
Howick Beach
Lloyd Elsmore Park - parking areas by Bell Field/rugby club area
Mangemangeroa Reserve
Moore Street 27 Grounds
Uxbridge Road 20 & 24 grounds

Kaipātiki Local Board Area
A F Thomas Park
Birkenhead War Memorial Park – parking area accessed off John Court Street entrance

Māngere-Ōtāhuhu Local Board Area
84 Kiwi Esplanade
David Lange Park, in Māngere
Mangere Centre Park
Moyle Park
Sturges Park
Swanson Park
Waterfront Road Reserve

Maungakiekie-Tāmaki Local Board Area
Gloucester Park North
Jellicoe Park & Onehunga War Memorial Pools
Panmure Basin – Cleary Road Entrance
Taumanu Reserve - Onehunga Foreshore
Waikaraka Park - Captain Springs Road entrance


Ōrākei Local Board Area
Andersons Beach Reserve
Glover Park
Madills Farm Recreation Reserve
Orakei Domain
Tamaki Drive Reserve - next to Lilliput

Ōtara-Papatoetoe Local Board Area
Puhinui Reserve

Papakura Local Board Area
Bottletop Bay Esplanade
Brylee Drive Reserve
David Car Park
Drury Domain and Drury Library & Hall
Drury Sports Complex
Hingaia Reserve
Prince Edward Park
Ray Small Park
Walter Strevens Reserve

Puketāpapa Local Board Area
Keith Hay Park - Rainford Street parking area
Margaret Griffen Park
Three Kings Reserve
War Memorial Park - Gifford Road parking areas

Rodney Local Board Area
Alexander Recreation Reserve
Baddeleys Beach Reserve
Buckleton Beach Reserve
Campbells Beach
Cement Works
Church Hill, 8
Helensville River Reserve
Matheson Bay Reserve
Parry Kauri Park
Port Albert Recreation Reserve
Port Albert Wharf Reserve B
Pukemateko Reserve Omaha South
Rainbows End Reserve – Rodney
Rita Way, Excelsior Way, Lagoon Way
Sunburst Reserve & Tamatea Esplanade
Te Hana Reserve
Wellsford Community Centre Grounds
Wellsford War Memorial Park
Whisper Cove

Upper Harbour Local Board Area
Hobsonville War Memorial
Hooton Reserve


Waitākere Ranges Local Board Area
Swanson Scenic Reserve

Waitematā Local Board Area
Cox's Bay Esplanade
Fred Ambler Lookout
Western Springs Reserve

Whau Local Board Area
Saunders Reserve – Avondale
Valonia Reserve
Wingate Reserve

• 13 sites where freedom camping would be permitted in non-self-contained vehicles

Kaipātiki Local Board Area
Dudding Park Sportsfield

Rodney Local Board Area
118 Rodney Street, Wellsford
Algies Bay Reserve
Brick Bay Drive - Puriri Place Reserve
Kowhai Park
Mangakura Reserve
Matakana Wharf Reserve
Shelly Beach Reserve
Sinclair Park
Snells Beach (Sunrise Boulevard)
Wellsford Centennial Park
William Fraser Reserve


Upper Harbour Local Board Area
Rosedale Park

• 312 sites where freedom camping would be banned

• Potentially hundreds of parks and other sites not covered by the bylaw and where only low use is expected. A "general rule" would state freedom camping is permitted only in certified self-contained vehicles.