Campers finally respecting the right to freedom camp on the Coromandel
Freedom campers on the Coromandel have finally heeded the warnings with behaviour much improved on previous years.
Thames-Coromandel District Council has had only one incident of abuse of compliance officers over the summer so far, with the majority abiding by the bylaws.
This has been reflected in a massive drop in infringement notices issued in the month of December year on year.
It's also a stark difference to other ares of New Zealand which have reported freedom campers leaving excrement and other rubbish behind.
In December 2016 TCDC officers issued 162 infringements, down from 258 issued during the same month in 2015.
The highest reduction has been in Whangamata with only 11 notices issued in 2016 as opposed to 50 in 2015.
Pauanui has had a drop of 50 per cent with infringements going from two in 2015 to one in 2016.
TCDC operations manager for community environment Barry Smedts said council was really pleased to see a big drop in freedom camping infringements in December compared to last year.
"This means our messages about Thames-Coromandel District being welcoming to responsible freedom campers in certified self-contained vehicles are getting through," he said.
But it hasn't been all smooth sailing with a compliance officer being verbally abused on January 5 while dealing with a freedom camper on the Esplanade at Whitianga.
Whitianga Police sergeant Andrew Morrison said it was unacceptable for the person to be making comments to the council employee.
"The man was given sound advice and told there are avenues available to anyone who wishes to try and change local bylaws including attending council hearings," he said.
"It is however not acceptable to abuse a staff member enforcing a bylaw," he said.
TCDC has freedom camping rules for all public areas it owns or manages and people need to comply with these or risk a $200 fine.
The main rule is that you must be in a certified self-contained vehicle if you want to freedom camp.
If you're a tourist and don't know if your vehicle complies, ask your rental company.
There are, however, areas around the Coromandel that need protecting from freedom camping and these either prohibited to all freedom camping, or allow it with restricted conditions.
All prohibited and restricted areas are clearly sign-posted.