Freedom camping bylaws having big impact in South Canterbury and North Otago

Last year's freedom camping issues in the Mackenzie District appear to have been largely resolved.
JOHN BISSET/FAIRFAX NZ

Last year's freedom camping issues in the Mackenzie District appear to have been largely resolved.

Tough new bylaws appear to have significantly curbed freedom camping issues in tourist hot spots around South Canterbury and North Otago.

A handful of infringement notices have been handed out in the Mackenzie District this summer, with locals saying many of last year's problems have largely been resolved.

The Mackenzie District Council passed its Responsible (Freedom) Camping Bylaw in August 2016, in response to widespread complaints about freedom campers littering, defecating in public areas, and camping illegally.

While unprecedented numbers of tourists have flooded into the district over the festive season, the bylaw appears to have done the trick.

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Tekapo Community Board member Stella Sweney said there seemed to be "very few problems" this summer.

"People have sort of got the message, it's much clearer."

Twizel-based councillor Paul Hannagan said there were not as many complaints about freedom camping compared to last year.

"There's a little less talk about than I remember."

Council community facilities manager Garth Nixon said he was only aware of "five or six" infringement notices issued across the district this summer.

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"We've got paid wardens now, and it's more about education and talking to people than handing out fines.

"We're not having significant problems."

Waitaki's Responsible Freedom Camping Bylaw also seems to have hit the mark.

Council communications advisor Alena Lynch said 14 infringement notices were issued between December 26 and January 6. 

Attention had mainly been focussed on Kakanui, but all popular freedom camping areas were monitored, she said.

The council was "pleased with the general behaviour of freedom campers".

The bylaw came into force on October 21, banning camping at 15 spots.

Kakanui Camping Ground owner Allan Jones said one of its target areas, Kakanui's All Day Bay, had seen significant change since its implementation.

"It (the bylaw) has really cleaned up their act, now there is only five self contained vehicles allowed."

Campers appeared to be abiding by the bylaw and quickly learned to camp in the right area or face a fine. 

One group of campers had stayed overnight during the Christmas break and received a $200 infringement. 

They then moved into a legal camping ground in line with the bylaw, he said.

 - Stuff

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