Retired Wanaka GP Dennis Pezaro has called for freedom
camping to be stamped out, before those in breach of freedom
camping bylaws cause a serious norovirus outbreak in New
However, the Queenstown Lakes District Council is powerless
to do anything more about the problem, chief executive Adam
During the open forum at this week's Wanaka Residents'
Association annual meeting where Mr Feeley was guest speaker,
Dr Pezaro called for tougher penalties against freedom
campers, in light of concerns shared by health officials
worldwide about predicted norovirus epidemics.
''Norovirus is expected to sweep the northern hemisphere in
their summer and it will inevitably find its way south,'' Dr
Pezaro told the meeting.
''Only 40 years ago we were taught there was no giardia,'' he
Yet pollution from poorly disposed toilet waste now meant New
Zealand's streams were ''unreliable'' and freedom camping
could cause the same devastating result with the norovirus
''My concern is that if you allow people to continue to camp
with inadequate toilet facilities then goodness know what
this norovirus will do ... I'm very concerned that it could
disable communities and community water supplies.''
Although he appreciated what the QLDC was doing to address
the freedom camping issue, ''I do think we need to strengthen
''We must stamp [freedom camping] out before it starts to
However, the council had limitations under the Freedom
Camping Act in what it could do, Mr Feeley said.
''What you want is a law to stop people breaking the law,''
he told Dr Pezaro.
''We can only exercise the powers that we've got.
''We simply do not have any power to do any more than what we
''We share your pain, we don't enjoy it any more than you
If freedom camping issues did not improve in the next couple
of years, it might be necessary to lobby central government
for changes to the Act, he said.
''I think in reality we will have to go back and say `It's
not working as well as it should, we have to change it'.''
A new strain of the norovirus stomach bug that has hit New
Zealand was linked this week to a death in Northland.