A freedom camper seen parked at a secluded site near the Ballantyne Rd bridge across the Cardrona River in 2010. Photo ODT files.
A proposal allowing for limited freedom camping at Waterfall
Creek on Lake Wanaka's western shore has been rubbished by
nearby accommodation providers, among others, as
inappropriate and unenforceable.
Lakes Environmental received 21 submissions on the Queenstown
Lakes District Council's proposed new freedom camping bylaw -
required to meet nationwide legislation introduced last
August - which will be heard by a council subcommittee today.
More than half of the submitters opposed the bylaw, mostly
because it was considered too lenient. However, some of those
objected for the opposite reason, claiming the bylaw was
Many submitters were unhappy with a proposed exemption to the
no freedom camping zone boundary extensions, which would
permit four certified, self-contained vehicles to camp at
Waterfall Creek, just 2km from Wanaka's town boundary and
close to several commercial camping grounds.
The Wanaka Community Board is strongly against allowing
non-self-contained freedom camping in the Wanaka Ward and
said allowing limited freedom camping at Waterfall Creek was
"totally inappropriate" given the area's popularity as a boat
launching and picnic spot.
Aspiring Campervan Park owner Richard Hutchison said efforts
to prevent damage from freedom camping in recent years
through education and fines had been an "abject failure" and
limiting the number of vans at Waterfall Creek was
That view was shared by Jacksons Fruit Ltd, landowner of the
Top 10 Holiday Park site on Mt Aspiring Rd, which said the
exemption would create a "minefield of problems", including
the difficulties and costs of monitoring the site.
The Top 10 Holiday Park frequently dealt with freedom campers
staying directly outside the park and using its facilities
free late at night, because of a sign announcing the start of
the freedom camping zone just 200m from the camping ground
entrance, co-owner of the business Patrick Perkins said.
"Freedom camping needs to be pushed out at least 20km [from
the town boundary] to protect the interests of residents and
local businesses," he wrote.
The Hawea Community Association was disappointed with the
outcome of the bylaw for the western shores of Lake Hawea, an
area that has previously attracted media attention because of
escalating abuse by freedom campers. However, the area is not
under council control, so its no freedom camping zone could
not be enforced under the Freedom Camping Act or bylaw.
"The situation now is, ironically, perhaps worse than before
the bylaw, as now all maps show this is an unrestricted area,
unlike the zones around the townships, and so people will
home in on it," the association said.
Nicholas Moody asked the QLDC to abandon the proposed bylaw,
which was "environmentally unsustainable and discriminatory",
and to instead develop education strategies to "avoid
infringing human rights".
Australian tourist George Samuel said he was "appalled and
disgusted" with the lack of freedom in New Zealand on his
"You call the ability to park in a public area and sleep,
freedom camping. In Australia, it's just called freedom.
"In Australia we aren't backward and don't fine people $200
for parking in a way which is not contrary to the parking
signs. Shove your freedom camping bylaw," he wrote.
The proposed bylaw would differ from the now obsolete former
bylaw by extending the no freedom camping zone west of Wanaka
to Glendhu Bay, extending the zone west of Queenstown from
Sunshine Bay to Moke Lake Rd, extending the Queenstown zone
east of Joe O'Connell Dr to Glenda Dr, and removing the no
freedom camping zone on the western shore of Lake Hawea.
Councillors Jude Battson, Cath Gilmour and Russell Mawhinney
will hear submissions in Queenstown's council chambers at
1.30pm today. The amended bylaws will come into effect on
December 19, subject to adoption by council.