Making the most of freedom camping

Freedom camping, a right or a privilege? Most people have been compliant with the new freedom camping bylaws introduced over a year ago. But some believe freedom camping should be a privilege for New Zealanders, not a right for international tourists. Pictured are Nico Lorenz and Julia Benter from Germany, who have been in New Zealand for four months and hope to stay for another seven. They have already been to Northland and Tauranga and are enjoying exploring Tairawhiti. Picture by Paul Rickard

SINCE the new freedom camping policy was introduced a year ago Gisborne District Council has issued only one infringement notice.

This was for freedom camping in a prohibited area said Gary McKenzie, the council’s monitoring and compliance team leader.

But 35 people have been found parking outside of designated freedom camping areas — 16 at Okitu Reserve, eight at Makorori Beach and 11 at the Centennial Marine Drive carpark in the period from Christmas through to January 8.

These are the main areas, outside the freedom camping areas, that attract overnight campers.

In general, people are very good to deal with and move on when requested, Mr McKenzie said.

“Other feedback from staff suggests that it appears to be local people who are more confrontational when approached by council staff.”

The freedom camping bylaw became effective from November 5, 2016 and applies to the whole of the Gisborne district.

Freedom camping (as under the Freedom Camping Act 2011) is free camping anywhere on public land that is not restricted or prohibited.

Mr McKenzie said other popular spots were the Makorori and Kaiti Beach freedom camping areas, with numbers forcing some to camp outside of the designated areas.

“Again, anyone found camping outside of the permitted areas are spoken to and given guidance.”

Mr McKenzie said the purpose of the bylaw was to provide for the management and regulation of facilities for the disposal of domestic sewage and household refuse from motorised mobile homes, caravans and tents parked on land owned or controlled by the council and specified as freedom camping areas.

The opinion that freedom camping should be a privilege for New Zealanders, not a right for international tourists, as voiced by several people in the community who complain that the Gisborne ratepayer is subsidising budget travel for tourists, has caused some controversy lately.

Tatapouri Motor Camp owner Carl Dugdale is unhappy about the influx of freedom campers, who he said are not being adequately monitored by the distict council.

They are a drain on local resources and probably cost the region hundreds of thousands of dollars, he said.

The total number of freedom and summer campers recorded were 30 at Midway Beach carpark; 152 at the Marina carpark in central Gisborne, 238 at Kaiti Beach carpark and 264 at the Makorori Beach carpark during the two-week peak period from December 24 to January 8.

Mr McKenzie said it was the job of council to enforce the act and bylaws as required by central government.

SINCE the new freedom camping policy was introduced a year ago Gisborne District Council has issued only one infringement notice.

This was for freedom camping in a prohibited area said Gary McKenzie, the council’s monitoring and compliance team leader.

But 35 people have been found parking outside of designated freedom camping areas — 16 at Okitu Reserve, eight at Makorori Beach and 11 at the Centennial Marine Drive carpark in the period from Christmas through to January 8.

These are the main areas, outside the freedom camping areas, that attract overnight campers.

In general, people are very good to deal with and move on when requested, Mr McKenzie said.

“Other feedback from staff suggests that it appears to be local people who are more confrontational when approached by council staff.”

The freedom camping bylaw became effective from November 5, 2016 and applies to the whole of the Gisborne district.

Freedom camping (as under the Freedom Camping Act 2011) is free camping anywhere on public land that is not restricted or prohibited.

Mr McKenzie said other popular spots were the Makorori and Kaiti Beach freedom camping areas, with numbers forcing some to camp outside of the designated areas.

“Again, anyone found camping outside of the permitted areas are spoken to and given guidance.”

Mr McKenzie said the purpose of the bylaw was to provide for the management and regulation of facilities for the disposal of domestic sewage and household refuse from motorised mobile homes, caravans and tents parked on land owned or controlled by the council and specified as freedom camping areas.

The opinion that freedom camping should be a privilege for New Zealanders, not a right for international tourists, as voiced by several people in the community who complain that the Gisborne ratepayer is subsidising budget travel for tourists, has caused some controversy lately.

Tatapouri Motor Camp owner Carl Dugdale is unhappy about the influx of freedom campers, who he said are not being adequately monitored by the distict council.

They are a drain on local resources and probably cost the region hundreds of thousands of dollars, he said.

The total number of freedom and summer campers recorded were 30 at Midway Beach carpark; 152 at the Marina carpark in central Gisborne, 238 at Kaiti Beach carpark and 264 at the Makorori Beach carpark during the two-week peak period from December 24 to January 8.

Mr McKenzie said it was the job of council to enforce the act and bylaws as required by central government.

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