Thames Coromandel Mayor Sandra Goudie will be making inquiries after holidaymakers complained that a rubbish compactor was broken over the New Year period.

The inquiry comes after Goudie hit out at holidaymakers for dumping rubbish at a refuse station in Colville, suggesting people didn't want to pay the $2 fee to properly dispose of their trash.

But Herald readers have since claimed that the Colville compactor was broken for several days over the New Year period.

Jacob Jensen, who was holidaying at Stony Bay, said the Colville compactor was out of order for at least nine days.


"The compactor at Colville was out of order with piles of rubbish when we checked on our way to Stony Bay, again on a trip to Colville to get supplies and when we left on the 3rd the rubbish was piled and still out of order," he said.

These claims were supported by Jan McEwen, who was camping at the Waikawau Bay Department of Conservation (DOC) campsite, and also tried to use the crusher but found it wasn't working.

"After driving 20 minutes to deposit the rubbish and finding it didn't work, instead people decided to leave it beside the machine rather than cart it back," she said.

McEwen said the problem was exacerbated by the fact DOC decided to ban all rubbish disposal - other than compost bins - at the camp. This was also the case at the Port Jackson campsite.

"All very virtuous but near impossible to store all rubbish in the heat for over a week.

"There was a compost bin where you could dump food scraps, but used nappies, sanitary items, plastic wrapping from meat packs etc were left to 'cook' in the sun.

"How it went was people were not prepared to leave stinking rubbish at the back of their tent in the heat so they took it to the dump station at Colville," she said.

Instead of pointing the finger at holidaymakers, McEwen said the "whole fiasco" was the fault of DOC and the Council.


"We have been camping at the same campground for many years and there has never been this issue of dumping before.

"If the council had provided a suitable skip or carried out regular collections, dumping would not happen."

When contacted by the Herald, Mayor Sandra Goudie said she was aware of a fault with the Colville crusher but didn't know how long it was out of order for.

"My husband and I wanted to use it ourselves, and I rang in and reported it wasn't working," she said.

"I expected it to be fixed a bit quicker. I'm surprised it was out of action for that long and I will be making inquiries about that."

Goudie agreed that DOC's decision not to dispose of campers' rubbish compounded the issue.

"But that was their decision and there was nothing much we could be about that."

DOC Whitianga Operations Manager Nick Kelly said they decided to introduce a pack in, pack out policy at its five northern Coromandel campsites this year to encourage campers to minimise their rubbish and be environmentally responsible.

Kelly said the Council was consulted and supportive, and a joint review will take place after the end of March.

"Most feedback from campers has been extremely positive about the new pack in, pack out policy. They have been adhering to it and so far it appears to be working well," he said.

"The council decision to put in rubbish compactors was separate to our pack in, pack out policy and we hadn't been advised of it.

"When we became aware the Colville compactor wasn't working we alerted the council to it.

"We have told campers not to drop their rubbish at the Colville compactor but to take their rubbish and recycling either home with them or to the waste transfer station at Coromandel."

The district council placed solar-powered rubbish compactors at four sites, Colville, Kuaotunu, Opoutere and Coroglen. They require a $2 coin to squash up a deposit about the size of a typical council rubbish bag.

Earlier Goudie said people had been "totally lazy" and instead of putting their rubbish into the compactor, they were dumping it next to it.

The compactors were placed before summer and the piles of rubbish were a holiday-time problem which she said was linked in part to the difficulties with freedom camping.

"I would say that it's largely visitors," Goudie said.

"Why is it that we have to keep funding the enforcement of people's behaviour?"

"It's incredibly frustrating. You would have thought when they were coming to an environment like Thames Coromandel District - it's such a beautiful environment - they would have more respect and look after it.

"It's a minority, but a sizable minority, that are disrespecting our environment. It's totally lazy."