Bylaws clean up Marlborough freedom camping

While some freedom campers are breaking council bylaws, many are keeping it clean at council-designated freedom camping ...
DEREK FLYNN/FAIRFAX NZ

While some freedom campers are breaking council bylaws, many are keeping it clean at council-designated freedom camping spots, like Koromiko.

A Blenheim man has taken it upon himself to be the Marlborough District Council's "eyes and ears on the ground" in a bid to see council bylaws around freedom camping are adhered to. 

Martin Loach, of Blenheim, drives along Port Underwood Rd almost weekly and said it was more common than not that he would come across campers blatantly disregarding freedom camping rules. 

"I find deposited rubbish, food scraps, human faeces and toilet paper less than 4 metres from their van. It's disgusting," Loach said. 

Loach said he often approached campers to inform them of the rules, take photos of any infringements and get their details to report to council. 

"I get annoyed, they are clearly ignoring the rules and leaving a mess with a complete lack of concern for our environment," he said. 

Under the draft freedom camping bylaws, which are being trialled from November 4 to April 4, freedom campers must camp only in one of 13 designated areas, some of which require campervans to be completely self-contained. 

Those found to be in breach of the rules faced a $200 fine. 

Loach said council was doing what it could to police the freedom camping rules, but it was up to the community to be the eyes and ears on the ground.

"It's not about being a Nazi. It is not like there are hundreds of them, just a few who are ruining it for the rest. 

"I understand people who want to get out in the region and get away from the crowds. If they were just having a picnic and cleaning up after themselves I would welcome them," Loach said. 

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Under the new draft laws camping in Picton and Waitohi Domain were banned altogether, a move Picton Business Group chairman Graham Gosling welcomed.

"Since the bylaws have been introduced I have seen a dramatic improvement," he said.

"People seem to be playing by the rules. You get the odd one that doesn't listen but that is just human nature." 

A council spokeswoman said people generally seemed to be adhering to the bylaws and since Christmas Eve council has received only three complaints from the public. 

Council monitors all campsites regularly and had issued 19 infringement notices since Christmas Eve, she said. 

"That's pretty good going considering there's been over 1000 campers at our designated sites." 

 - The Marlborough Express

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