Approval for new camper-van rules

The boundary for freedom campers on Mt Aspiring Rd, Wanaka, has been moved further from Wanaka. Photo by Mark Price.
The boundary for freedom campers on Mt Aspiring Rd, Wanaka, has been moved further from Wanaka. Photo by Mark Price.
The push to educate camper-van users about the rules of freedom camping in New Zealand has been applauded by Wanaka Top 10 Holiday Park lessee Patrick Perkins.

Earlier this month, Mr Perkins complained overseas tourists in camper vans were legally parking on the roadside outside the gates of his park in Aspiring Rd.

That problem has been addressed by a new Queenstown Lakes District Council bylaw which has moved the boundaries of some freedom camping zones further from town centres.

The one in Aspiring Rd is now well west of Mr Perkins' park and a sign also prohibits freedom camping at nearby Waterfall Creek.

''Things are slowly changing for the better,'' Mr Perkins said yesterday.

He was also positive about the efforts of the tourism industry group New Zealand Responsible Camping Forum set up to ensure freedom campers behaved more responsibly.

The forum is promoting measures to ensure camper-van users know local rules.

In a press release this week, chairman Geoff Ensor said rental-vehicle companies were ''actively recommending'' their clients stay in holiday parks or designated camping areas.

The message was being reinforced by i-Site staff and camping websites.

The forum was ''especially targeting'' tourists in ''cheap, privately owned vehicles'' who did not get information from rental companies.

And for the third consecutive summer, ''responsible camping'' brochures are being handed out on Cook Strait ferries.

Mr Ensor said the forum had noted a marked decrease in complaints about camper vans.

Mr Perkins said the number of complaints might have dropped in some areas but ''definitely not for Wanaka''.

''We have probably seen a slight increase, I would think.''

He believed the main problem was with overseas tourists rather than New Zealanders.

When the council set out its freedom camping strategy in December 2010, it estimated on most summer nights 50-100 camper vans were parked in rural areas around Queenstown and Wanaka, with twice that number in the towns.

- mark.price@odt.co.nz