Camping bylaws hit freedom camp areas

The Southland District Council adopted its camping control bylaw yesterday, which altered some freedom camping areas in the district.

The council heard seven of the 16 public submissions at its meeting yesterday.

Most submitters agreed with the bylaw, others proposed extending restrictions or complete bans.

A minority believed freedom camping should be permitted.

The council's camping bylaw, established in 2007, was under review because it ceased to be in effect a year after the introduction of the Freedom Camping Act.

The act allows freedom camping everywhere except where specifically prohibited or restricted.

Many of the submitters made reference to issues at Queens Reach, Te Anau, but the council told them it had no jurisdictions over Conservation Department land.

It was announced in August that it would be closed for overnight camping for a trial period of one year.

The council passed the Freedom Camping Bylaw 2012 with a few amendments such as including a reference to the New Zealand Standard for Self Contained Vehicles NZS5465:2001 in the definition of Self Contained - although not requiring self-contained vehicles to be licensed under the standard.

Other changes included changing Taylor Park, Mandeville, from a prohibited area to a self-contained area for overnight camping and designating an area near the intersection at Stirling Hill, near Fortrose, for overnight self-contained camping and an area in the Otautau township.

The council heard seven of the 16 public submissions on the draft bylaw that would extend restricted freedom camping around the Manapouri and Te Anau area and the possibility of opening up more areas.

Councillors agreed "clean and green" was the future but wanted to be careful that it was not seen as anti-camping: they wanted to welcome visitors with the right standards.

Southland District Mayor Frana Cardno said camping was a growing industry that needed to be recognised and that many campers were self-sufficient.

The bylaw will be enforced from October 13.

The Southland Times