Taranaki welcomes freedom campers

German tourists Gustav Anker-Ladefoged and Sergio Alves, both 19, worked and drove their way through NZ.
German tourists Gustav Anker-Ladefoged and Sergio Alves, both 19, worked and drove their way through NZ.

While freedom campers are causing headaches in other parts of New Zealand, they are being welcomed in Taranaki.

The Department of Conservation's partnerships ranger Mike Tapp said having the campers about helped deter people behaving badly.

He said the North Egmont Visitors Centre carpark is a popular site for freedom campers - people who camp in areas that are not designated camp grounds.

''The more of them we have here, the less vandalism we see,'' Mr Tapp said.

''The carpark has toilets and water. The only thing we discourage is camping where there's no toilets.''

Yesterday it was reported that freedom campers were causing upsets at popular tourist spots round the country, leaving litter and human waste.

In New Plymouth yesterday, German tourists Sergio Alves and Gustav Anker-Ladefoged had already stayed a night in the middle car park at Back Beach.

They hoped to stay another and had booked surfing lessons for today.

''We always look for signs and ask people if it is OK to camp,'' Mr Alves said.

They camped only in places where there were toilets and they took their rubbish with them.In their three months in New Zealand they had only been asked to move once.

In the New Plymouth area, campers were generally well behaved according to New Plymouth District Council parks manager Stuart Robertson.

''We've had no problems with freedom camping over summer.''

He said there were extra patrols this summer and the council had received no complaints.

Usually if there were complaints they would be to do with littering, the dumping of large amounts of rubbish in bins or fires, he said.

In South Taranaki freedom camping was not an issue either.

South Taranaki District Council property and facilities manager John Sargeant said he did a survey of road ends along the Surf Highway 45, which are popular sites for freedom campers, at the beginning and end of summer two years ago.

''There was not a lot of lasting negative impact,'' Mr Sargeant said.

He said the areas were popular with surfers who would pick up their own and other people's rubbish.

''There's a lot of self-monitoring, a lot of Taranaki pride. If a surfer sees someone littering they're likely to say: 'Oy, you! Pick that up'.''

Freedom camping in the Stratford district was actively encouraged, Sven Hanne, Stratford District Council's director assets, said.

''We see it as a fundamental thing for Kiwis. It's all positive in our view.''

He said the only place they had ever had issues was at popular camping spot Joshua Morgan's Grave.

The problem, caused by people using the great outdoors as a loo, was resolved by building a toilet facility.

Bruce Lochore, of the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association, which endorses freedom camping in certified self-contained vehicles, said Taranaki was a freedom camping-friendly region.

''We have a good relationship with the local councils there.''

Being self contained meant vehicles fitted certain criteria,which included having a toilet and a holding tank.

Taranaki Daily News