The Dunedin City Council insists extra efforts to control
freedom camping on Otago Peninsula are working, despite a
complaint to police about the numbers descending on Macandrew
Bay late last week.
The complaint came after 13 vehicles took up Macandrew Bay's
five designated freedom camping parks, and other nearby
spaces, next to Ralph Ham Park on Thursday night.
Senior Constable Lox Kellas, of Portobello, confirmed the
complaint had been received on Friday morning, by which time
nine vehicles remained. The complaint was referred to the
Council staff spoken to yesterday confirmed the council's
security firm, First Security, was alerted, but did not
The complaint came just days after councillors voted to
continue a two-year trial of freedom camping at Macandrew
Bay, at least until June, while assessing the impact of extra
signs and security patrols.
The changes were introduced in response to community concern
at the number of freedom campers staying overnight, which
sometimes topped 20 vehicles.
Councillors at last week's planning and regulatory committee
meeting voted to continue the trial after being reassured the
recent changes were helping ease problems and no more than
five vehicles were now parking in the area.
However, council parks operations officer Richard Dahlenburg
on Friday said numbers had been ''up and down'' since the
changes were introduced.
The week before last was a good one, but there were reports
of 10 campers parked in the area early last week and 13 on
Some residents were still getting ''a bit hot under the
collar'' when extra vehicles were spotted, but the situation
was still improving, he believed.
''To the best of my knowledge it's trended down from where it
was, which was up in the 20s and even more than that at
''I would suggest it's a big improvement ... a lot will
depend on the numbers of people going down the peninsula at
any one time, and what their intentions are,'' he said.
Otago Peninsula Community Board chairwoman Christine Garey
said the additional measures had been working ''very well''
to date, but ''clearly they aren't working if those are the
numbers we're getting''.
The council needed to manage the presence of freedom campers
in Macandrew Bay until the trial ended, to ease community
concerns, she said.
''That's what we're trying to ensure - that that is managed
and dealt with and people's concerns have been addressed.''
She had also noticed some freedom campers were returning to
the peninsula's quiet ''nooks and crannies'' in recent weeks,
which was something the trial aimed to put an end to.
However, while many residents remained concerned about
freedom camping and its impacts, others within the community
were ''very positive'' and welcomed them, she said.
The long-term solution remained a Department of
Conservation-style camping ground on the peninsula, which the
council planned to investigate next year, she said.
Mr Dahlenburg said security guards did not respond to the
complaint on Thursday
because they were under instruction to visit at set times.
The security checks were carried out four days a week, at 8am
and 8.30pm, to ensure freedom campers using the area were
following the rules, and to move on any who were not, he
Macandrew Bay was among three areas designated for overnight
stops by freedom camping vehicles without toilets as part of
the trial, which was part of a push to ease freedom camping
rules across the city.