Ocean View camping upsets some

Freedom campers park  for the night at Ocean View about 6pm last Friday. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Freedom campers park for the night at Ocean View about 6pm last Friday. Photo by Peter McIntosh.

Some Ocean View residents feel freedom campers are flouting the camping rules and overcrowding a local seaside reserve.

Concerned residents contacted the Otago Daily Times saying they wanted the Dunedin City Council to enforce freedom camping rules in the area, as it was doing in Macandrew Bay.

It was reported in the ODT last week the council had taken a sterner approach to those flouting the rules related to freedom camping in Macandrew Bay and had put up more signs. Security patrols were visiting the area to move campers if allocated spaces were full.

Up to five non self-contained vehicles are allowed to park overnight at designated areas in Ocean View, Macandrew Bay and Warrington.

Enforcing the rules at Ocean View should be the ''minimum'' the council did, one Ocean View resident told the ODT.

''A sign is nothing unless it's policed,'' the man, who did not wished to be identified, said.

Up to 22 vehicles were staying overnight in the area and the area was ''absolutely all over the place'', he said.

''They are getting up, putting all their kit up . . . clothes are all over the trees, they are stripping off ... ''

He was not against freedom campers. However, he wanted the number of vehicles using the area to be kept to the five the council had agreed to.

Another resident said he felt the community had been ''relegated behind everyone else'' and was being ''literally eaten out from under us'' by freedom campers.

Not all the locals are worried about the visitors, as another resident whose house overlooks the car park said she had found the campers ''quite entertaining''.

''It doesn't worry me too much as long as they are using the toilets,'' she said.

She had ''yelled out the windows a couple of times and told campers to use the toilets'', but she believed the campers were only resorting to using the bushes because the facilities could not cope with the numbers using the camping area.

Saddle Hill Community Board chairman Scott Weatherall said those he had spoken to were ''fairly supportive of what's happening there''.

''It's almost too successful,'' he said.

However, if people had concerns he would raise the matter with the council.

Council parks manager Lisa Wheeler said the council would look at using security patrols at the site ''if any issue arises that warrants needing to send them''.

She was only aware of one complaint related to the site, but if more were made the council would assess the situation.

It was a trial and if it was found Ocean View was an inappropriate location for a freedom camping site, it could be changed, she said.


Travellers' spending priorities

Some people like organised tours and hotels and the best-promoted tourist "adventure experiences" which are so carefully OSH'd and complianced that there is no risk - nothing new, each is a standardised product.  The economic gain to NZ from such tourists is easy to calculate.  Others skimp on accommodation, use the cheapest means of travel, get the longest time and most genuine experiences out of their expensive fare to come to this faraway country.  They are the most likely to meet NZers other than hospitality staff.  They have unusual encounters, take photos that aren't the same as the postcards on sale in all the tourist places, share them online.  Likewise the adventures, they'll pick the ones they've read about on similar people's blogs.  Talking to locals, they'll follow up "You really should go to ___, have you seen ____, there's a boat/van that takes people to ____ on Tuesdays" and if that means an extra day that's OK because they are in a campervan, they can stay longer or shorter in a place.

If we keep on looking at these people as freeloaders we are making a huge mistake.  They do spend money.  Not only that but they tell the world, verbally when they get home, and online in their blogs and photo-sharing.  How much would that cost us if we hired even more "DCC tourism managers" and publicists?  These are the people who travel cheap when young then later when they've got a few dollars they come back because they never forgot the great holiday they had here.

If we have to provide toilets why is this an expense not an investment?  If more people stay at a facility than is allowed that's no different than too many people crowding into a nightclub. It is the role of the authorities to enforce the rules, there is no point in other people whining about the people crowding in to either place.  Alert the authorities instead of working up a big grudge!  We cannot benefit from tourism without tourists.  Are we in a position to be picky about which tourists can come to Dunedin?  I don't think so.    

There is a proven need for more campervan accommodation.  These travellers do not want to be herded into one huge compound, so let us look for small suitable areas fit for a dozen or two, contract for relocatable toilets and showers.  That's investment, a change from throwing money into "build it and they will come" schemes because we already know they're coming - they're here.  And above all let us do our best to make personal contact with travellers pleasant for them so the reputation of Dunedin as a wonderful friendly welcoming place spreads all over the world. [Abridged]

Freedom camping

I live near Ocean View and see the campervans there all the time and to be honest... great! This is bringing a lot of people in to the area that would otherwise have passed Dunedin right by.

This comes at a cost sure - we have to monitor it, clean up after them, provide services. Welcome to the real world. We cannot have our cake and eat it too.

Dunedin needs to stop it's petty infighting and bickering and start embracing things. We seriously do seem to be a city that finds change a hard thing to grasp.

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