Children upset over freedom campers defecating at bus shelter

Waiting for the school bus can be a smelly affair for the children of Raurimu.
FRANCES FERUSON / FAIRFAZ NZ

Waiting for the school bus can be a smelly affair for the children of Raurimu.

Children from a Central Plateau town have had enough of seeing and smelling faeces and urine at the school bus stop.

Now they're petitioning council to have it banned.

Newly elected youth ambassador Micah Little has put up with freedom campers defecating at the Raurimu Spiral lookout car park for years.

Seeing  faeces and toilet paper scattered at the Spiral car park in Raurimu is a common sight for residents.
FRANCES FERGUSON / FAIRFAX NZ

Seeing faeces and toilet paper scattered at the Spiral car park in Raurimu is a common sight for residents.

Every morning parents and children are greeted with vans and cars blocking the carpark and toilet paper scattered everywhere.

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Micah said children have to avoid stepping on number twos while chaining up their bikes.

Taumarunui-Ohura Youth Ambassador Micah Little will be lobbying council to get freedom camping removed from the car park ...
FRANCES FERGUSON / FAIRFAX NZ

Taumarunui-Ohura Youth Ambassador Micah Little will be lobbying council to get freedom camping removed from the car park in Raurimu.

"I'll definitely be bringing it up because I know a lot of [the students] would be interested in doing something," she said.

"The parents come in the morning and flick it away - it's disgusting cause it's a public place."

She said this year had been the worst and now the community wanted to have the freedom camper sign removed.

Visitors often do their business on the side of the path on the Spiral lookout.
FRANCES FERGUSON / FAIRFAX NZ

Visitors often do their business on the side of the path on the Spiral lookout.

Evelyn Lark, 12, said it was horrible having to smell urine and faeces everyday.

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"They'll have their camping spot all set up. We have to come here and get our shoes all dirty and sometimes we have to wait here for ages."

Resident Marilla Swift said child safety was also an issue and on one occasion a couple of dodgy looking people were camped out in the school bus shelter.

"The children were sitting on a wooden fence behind a camper van obviously too intimidated to use the shelter.

"The camper vans not only manoeuvre around with limited visibility but also reduce the ability of the kids to have a full picture of traffic where there are cars coming and going."

In 2015 tourism overtook dairy as the country's biggest export earner while Statistics NZ recently cited it as having a $20.2 billion domestic contribution.

Just over 3 million tourists visit New Zealand every year and about 60,000 of them are freedom campers.

Acting general manager for community services Tim Leahy said the community should write to council and they could ask the Department of Conservation to stop allowing camping at the car park.

"Council officers will respond to calls to areas where members of the public have reported issues, like overstaying or the dumping off faeces or rubbish.  Council will respond to calls but does not proactively monitor any areas."

Leahy said they have not received any complaints since 2014 and encouraged the public to report all instances of illegal freedom camping, dumping of faeces or rubbish.

Communications manager for Ruapehu District Council Paul Wheatcroft said it was a problem the council had been grappling with, as were other small councils around the country.

"There's issues with infrastructure and who's going to pay and rules around freedom camping but very important because it effects people's experience.

"If you want people to come and visit you don't want them standing in a pile of poo."

 

 

 

 

 - Stuff

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