Waimate given the thumbs up

Waimate is a prime freedom camping district, according to the country's motorhome lobby group.

New Zealand Motor Caravan Association has more than 52,000 registered members. The association is developing a special registration scheme for councils which have freedom-camping friendly environments.

NZMCA general manager Bruce Lochore said Waimate would be recognised as one of the country's top spots.

"They acknowledge what freedom camping brings to the district's economy," he said.

There would be an official accreditation event in February.

Mr Lochore said councils should have legally-compliant freedom camping-related by-laws, parking areas which cater for self-contained motorhomes and caravans, access to potable water for filling freshwater tanks and extra shopping and amenity areas.

"We're keen to do the responsible thing ... our targets are for our entire membership to own fully self-contained motorhomes," he said.

Waimate District Mayor Craig Rowley said the initiative was sparked after meeting Mr Lochore at a conference.

"We're keen to put Waimate on the map ... the district, and indeed the region, is one of the last places where low-cost camping is freely available," Mr Rowley said.

"It's a real advantage to the town, and it brings in a lot of tourist dollars."

Mr Rowley said the council did not have any specific freedom-camping bylaws.

"We've got a pretty friendly approach to campers. There are lots of sites around, especially the closer you get to the Waitaki lakes."

Mr Lochore said there were 15 councils already accredited.

The Timaru Herald