Residents put end to campers' freedom

NO PARKING: Camping at the  Balaena Bay carpark has been banned by the council.
NO PARKING: Camping at the Balaena Bay carpark has been banned by the council.

Freedom campers having rowdy parties and blocking locals from using the beach have prompted Wellington City Council to ban campervans from Balaena Bay.

The council has put up signs banning camping at the popular beach spot at the northern end of Evans Bay Parade.

The move came after between 25 and 30 vans were parking there each night and the council was getting a couple of complaints a week, mainly about noise, council spokesman Clayton Anderson said.

The signs went up late last month.

Freedom council is against local bylaws, but was difficult to police, so the council would often turn a blind eye, provided it did not cause a problem, Mr Anderson said. However, it had reached an unacceptable level at Balaena Bay.

"Local ratepayers couldn't use the beach, they couldn't park there . . . When it gets to the stage of 25 to 30 vans a night staying there you've got to take action."

Nearby residents were also getting fed up with the noise, with about two complaints every week.

It appeared it was mostly young tourists using the site, and the area's popularity was growing as word of mouth spread, he said.

A forum post about freedom camping in Wellington on the Trip Advisor website recommended Balaena Bay:

"Balaena Bay in Wellington offers freedom campers a place to park up for the night. The beach car park is frequented by camper vans all year round. There are also public toilet facilities on the beach, as well as rubbish bins. Oh and the beach itself is quite nice on a summer's day."

Beachgoers yesterday were unaware that camping was an issue, but first-time visitor to the spot Paige Kennedy, 19, said she did not mind the thought of people stopping there overnight.

"People don't use the beach at night, so if they're camping in a campervan I don't really see a problem with it."

Mr Anderson said Lyall Bay's Dorrie Leslie Park and Princess Bay had also had problems with freedom campers.

Council staff usually direct them to the waterfront motorhome park, or a Lower Hutt holiday park.

Contact Katie Chapman
Wellington reporter
Twitter: @katiechapman28

The Dominion Post