A Wanaka farmer who says freedom campers are destroying the area around Roys Peak says a tourist levy is still needed to permanently deal with the problem.

Minister for Tourism Paula Bennett announced a $178 million tourism infrastructure package yesterday.

It will provide funding over four years in partnerships with local councils and other community organisations.

John Levy owns the property beside the Roys Peak track on Mt Aspiring Rd and has had freedom campers defecate in his front paddock, rubbish blow on to his farm from the track and cars parked in his driveway.


"I still believe we need to tax tourism at the source. Just as rates target users in a local municipality, the bed tax will do the same thing for tourism."

He said he did not understand the Government's aversion to a tourist levy, as it was an accepted tax in many other countries.

"The beauty of a bed tax is it goes directly back to the community that is being impacted on by tourism. We don't know where the $102 million infrastructure is going to be spent and is it enough. How long is a piece of string?"

Roys Peak track has one toilet near the start of the walk and no rubbish bins, and the Department of Conservation opened a second car park last summer.

Mr Levy said that during this last summer and early autumn, 250 to 300 cars filled the two car parks and parked up and down Mt Aspiring Rd. He estimated that could equate to 500 to 700 people doing the walk each day.

Some of the litter dropped by hikers in the Roys Peak car park. Photo / Kerrie Waterworth
Some of the litter dropped by hikers in the Roys Peak car park. Photo / Kerrie Waterworth

"This track is a resource and it has to be managed properly. If it was a cinema or a bar and it had only one toilet, the authorities wouldn't allow it."

Mr Levy said he had a knock at his door two to three times a week from freedom campers asking to use his bathroom.

"There shouldn't be any freedom camping here. This is my family home and there is no reason for people to be camping at Roys Peak when they could be staying in a camping ground with facilities."


Mr Levy said the issues of freedom campers and of tourists intruding on private property were the two "super hot bed issues" talked about by everyone in Wanaka.

"You hear it all over the community. The changing colours of autumn has brought herds of Chinese tourists and they just walk on to private property and start taking pictures. This morning two huge vans pulled into my driveway and 20 Chinese got out and started taking photos of my trees. Yesterday I had another Chinese man and his family sleeping in their car in my driveway because they said they wanted to get away from the sun. Do they do this in China?"

"Roys Peak is an outstanding natural landscape; you can't have people defecating all over it. We've got to start addressing tourism properly, managing it properly and taxing it properly, or we'll lose these pristine areas in so many ways."

Video by Kerrie Waterworth for The South Today with help from New Zealand On Air.