More extensive ban wanted

(from left) Robin Berthaud (23), of Lyon, Aurelie Landas (27), of Lille, Samuel Bonningues (31), of Lille, and Charlene Joannon (23), of Lyon, enjoy breakfast at Lake Wanaka before Christmas. Photo by Mark Price.
(from left) Robin Berthaud (23), of Lyon, Aurelie Landas (27), of Lille, Samuel Bonningues (31), of Lille, and Charlene Joannon (23), of Lyon, enjoy breakfast at Lake Wanaka before Christmas. Photo by Mark Price.
The Lake Hawea Community Association hopes the prohibition on freedom camping near Lake Hawea can be further extended.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council has banned freedom camping around the southern end of the lake near the township.

However, association chairwoman Barbara Chinn says the ban also needs to be applied to the side of the lake towards the Neck, alongside State Highway 6.

Ms Chinn said the land in question belonged to LINZ and a meeting of interested parties will be held in Wanaka on January 25.

The particular areas of concern were popular freedom camping areas at Deep Bay and Craig Burn.

''The main problem was that people were using the area as a toilet and then moving away.''

A toilet had now been installed at Craig Burn.

Ms Chinn said as well as the mess left by freedom campers, there was concern about what might be leaching into the lake.

Lake Hawea residents relied on ultraviolet-treated lake water for drinking, she said.

''The Lake Hawea Community Association has been very concerned about the pollution.''

An early morning check by the Otago Daily Times of previous freedom camping trouble spots around Wanaka and Hawea before Christmas found campers were following the rules.

A group of young French people in a small camper van were having breakfast on the Lake Wanaka foreshore but had spent the night freedom camping legally at Albert Town.

One of the group, Robin Berthaud, of Lyon, said they were well aware of the freedom camping rules in New Zealand and sought places at which they were allowed to stay.

They had been advised by one i-Site they could not stay at a Department of Conservation camping site but had since found that was incorrect.

And Charlene Joannon, also from Lyon, said they were particular about camping where there were toilets and ensured they left no rubbish.

Highway maintenance worker Max Broadmore, of Tarras, said he had not seen many freedom campers at all this year. He considered camper vans should all be equipped with shovels so human waste could be buried.

Mr Broadmore's biggest concern was about the amount of rubbish he had to pick up on tourist routes between Cromwell and the summit of the Lindis and Haast Passes.

Tourism operators and communities are being asked to help ensure freedom campers behave responsibly.

The Tourism Industry Association is calling on members to support the New Zealand Responsible Camping Forum encouraging campers to ''do the right thing''. This includes knowing rules governing freedom camping and being able to direct visitors to holiday parks or camping areas.

The association said complaints about vehicle-based campers decreased markedly in the past few seasons, thanks to the educational campaign put in place by the New Zealand Responsible Camping Forum.