Many Waihi Beach residents are breathing a sigh of relief with the decision to put a freedom camping facility at Waihi Beach on hold until next summer.

The KiwiCamp building was to have been placed at the council-owned carpark at Waihi Beach Community Centre for this summer's peak season.

Up until Friday last week, the $200,000 building was destined to arrive at the venue this week but Western Bay of Plenty District Council has reversed its decision and put the plan on ice.

KiwiCamp is a one-stop-service-shop for freedom campers. It is a relocatable prefabricated building with toilets, dishwashing and laundry facilities, showers, access to potable water, waste and recycling areas, device charging and wireless internet.


Waihi Beach Community Centre and Waihi Beach Residents and Ratepayers Association members were never happy with the venue and what they saw as a lack of consultation from Western Bay of Plenty District Council (the building belongs to the community but council owns the carpark).

Council had initially said it would have normally consulted with locals on the matter but the tight timeframe to qualify for government funding meant it had to make a quick decision.

The centre heard about the KiwiCamp plan in September. It was a like it or lump it deal, as centre manager Niria Gerbich saw it.

"We are very relieved to learn it has been put on hold but still don't want it here next summer. We hope they sort it by then."

Niria can't understand why the carpark was considered a good idea in the first place.

"They park like sardines and what are they going to be looking at? The asphalt?"

Niria is also concerned about safety, monitoring of the site and the effect on the centre (the centre has already had two weddings cancelled recently due to the issue).

About 60 people attended a Residents and Ratepayers meeting in Waihi Beach two weeks ago to voice their opposition to the planned community centre site.


Some suggested a more appropriate location for KiwiCamp could be the large carpark on Seaforth Rd towards Bowentown.

"We've listened to these concerns," says mayor Garry Webber. "Council will put the facility in storage while we consult and decide where in Waihi Beach it will go next summer season."

Residents and Ratepayers Association chairman Don Fraser says it was amazing to get such a great response from their first project (the group was created in December).

Seventy-five people had signed a petition in favour of KiwiCamp not being placed at the centre as a venue.

Fraser says they could see council's point of view as they are "under pressure from central government to get it done quickly which did not work".

"We are here to create a new relationship with council rather than hitting them with a stick, we are going to work with them and help them to find a better site away from the centre of the village," he says.

This will include liaising with all parties and iwi.

The council's decision to defer installation has been made with the support of central government.

There are 47 freedom camping sites across the district governed by council's Freedom Camping Bylaw which requires all freedom camping to be in self-contained vehicles.

A banner was placed across the "KiwiCamp Not Here, Wrong Location" sign gracing the front of the venue ... saying "thank you council for listening".

The sign has now gone.