Freedom camping will continue unchanged in Whanganui this summer but a report is recommending a limit to the nights spent at each camp spot.
Whanganui District Council will have a draft freedom camping bylaw out for consultation by mid 2021.
Whanganui District Council is one of just a few in New Zealand that permits overnight stays anywhere in the district - unless there is a specific bylaw against it. In 2014 it became a motor home friendly city and added dump sites for travellers.
In February this year a total of 2300 vehicles stayed overnight in and around the city. The most popular camping spot was in Anzac Pde on the Whanganui River - with toilets, a dump site and water fountain.
The owners of holiday parks complained the free camping options were robbing them of business. Some residents were also upset the facilities are provided for free, while they pay rates and taxes.
The council employed Terry Enriquez as freedom camping ambassador, working five hours a week.
The Freedom Camping Ambassador Report also recommended improvements to signage and improvements to facilities.
It details campers being largely compliant and complimenting Whanganui people on their hospitality.
However, some said the Anzac Pde site was overcrowded, with not enough facilities, and that local people were abusive and intimidating.
The campers were accused of "getting everything for free and sponging off the New Zealand people" and dogs were allowed to rush them, or urinate or defecate immediately outside their sites.
Freedom campers didn't always stick to the guidelines. Some washed their dishes or clothes in toilet hand basins or with the hose provided for cleaning campervan toilets.
Some also left rubbish behind, and relieved themselves in plain sight of passersby.
Most of the campers were older New Zealanders, or French and German people aged 20-30. Forty per cent were return visitors.
They came to see Whanganui attractions, visit family or friends, for hospital appointments or visits or to repair their vehicles.
Some found attractions they were unaware of, and would have liked to stay longer.
The Motor Caravan Association says its visitors spend about $100 a day en route. In Whanganui the average daily spend was $30 to $50 per person per day, and 13 per cent spent less than $30 per day.
Those travelling on bicycles and sleeping in tents wanted more services. They said they would be willing to pay for hot showers and toilets at a facility like Taupo's Superloo.
The council report recommends installing more facilities, and better signage at freedom camping spots - signage that includes conditions for use.
This season's freedom camping ambassador is Faith Tioro, who will be working 32 hours a week. Council officers are also gathering information before making recommendations on a freedom camping bylaw.