Campervans welcome in Dunedin

The Dunedin City Council is taking a ''positive'' approach to freedom camping in the area.

Self-contained campervans are welcome in the city - they can stay over in public car parks for up to two nights and even illegal campers will not feel the sharp end of the law.

Council reserves and recreation planning team leader Paulien Leijnse said freedom campers come to enjoy the scenery, the wildlife and the heritage attractions.

''It is important that we convey to them our policy for freedom camping in our city so they know where they can camp and we are working hard to ensure they can access this information easily.

''We don't go out and fine people because it is not a very positive attitude. We talk and try to convince people to move on and give them information.''

The council's attitude in Dunedin is different from that of the Queenstown Lakes District Council, which has issued thousands of instant fines for illegal camping.

Ms Leijnse said Dunedin's tourist were more likely to be nature lovers than young thrill seekers. Otago Peninsula Community Board deputy chairwoman Christine Garey said freedom campers contributed significantly to the local economy.

''We need to welcome freedom campers but manage where they stay.''

Those camping in tents or vehicles without toilet facilities are only allowed to stay in private campgrounds in the Dunedin city area.

Self contained motor-homes can park for the night in council car parks for up to two nights but there must not be more than two within a 50-metre radius.

No camping is allowed at Taiaroa Head/Pukekura (including Pilots Beach) or on the city's cemeteries.

Freedom campers and visitors in campervans make up 6% of visitors to Dunedin. Campervan visitors spend on average $195 per day.

Rural Women NZ national president Liz Evans said there had been problems in the past with effluent and grey water being dumped out of campervans into country drains.

That had improved since the Freedom Camping Act came into force last summer.

At last a modicum of common sense

These people deserve recognition. There are a lot of people travelling 'self-propelled' these days, or by camper-van. They are here to see what this country has to offer (and not only investment wise). Something not usually recognised is that they enjoy meeting New Zealanders, which is far better than large droves of package-tourists being herded from one 'name' destination to another and frequently under the gaze of a 'minder', (there to see that they do not stray from the paths-of-righteousness), making contact only with their own 'nationals'.

Self-propelled people 'spend', whether it be on supermarket food and other items and the profits remain in Dunedin. They may only be 6 percent of the travelling population, but they represent a sector worth encouraging, in my view.

I spend quite a bit of time on the coast, and have met dozens of these people. Usually they are thankful for a little bit of 'local' advice as to the best way to get to the attractions which they wish to see, as frequently, the information which they obtain from the 'information' centres, a few lines scrawled in ball-point on a printed map, does not relate well to the situation, 'on-the-ground'.

As recently as yesterday, I chatted to two groups, one German, the other French, at Sandfly Bay. Even if it is only to explain the difference betweens sealions and fur seals, or why 'Hoiho' should not be approached too closely, the information is usually appreciated. I have met very few of these people who were hard to like.


Well done DCC

Well done DCC. This is a far better approach.

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