Freedom campers behaving in region

JOHANNA CLELAND
Last updated 12:00 08/01/2014

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Freedom campers are causing headaches for councils all over the country - but not here.

The travelling style has become increasingly popular and councils are concerned with the behaviour of campers and the mess they are leaving behind.

Parking on public land with no facilities or designated camping area, the gypsy-style campers have been accused of littering and defecating in public spaces.

But that's not the case in Manawatu and surrounding areas.

Manawatu District Council property and parks manager Shannon Quirk said freedom campers tended to look after the area where they were staying and deter vandals.

"The only issue at present is the waste from the motor homes."

The council's policy on campers was under review, Ms Quirk said.

Tararua District Council chief executive Blair King said his council had not heard of any complaints about freedom campers.

The Tararua council introduced a new policy last August that allows freedom camping on all council-owned land, provided it is in self-contained caravans and motor homes only.

The policy also states that freedom campers may not stay in tents and long term camping is not an option.

Freedom camping is regulated under the Freedom Camping Act 2011, and gives councils permission to fine campers up to $10,000, depending on their bylaws.

Recently, a freedom camper in Te Anau received a $200 fine from the Southland District Council after refusing to move on when asked to do so several times by a ranger.

Queenstown Lakes District Council started an early morning patrol last December in areas in which freedom camping was prohibited, with a $200 fine for those breaching its bylaw.

The Thames-Coromandel District Council has issued more than 1000 infringement fines and warnings so far this summer to freedom campers caught breaking the council's bylaws.

The worst offenders caught were lighting illegal fires and defecating in public areas.

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- Manawatu Standard

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