End freedom camping call

Dennis Pezaro
Dennis Pezaro
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 Zealand.

However, the Queenstown Lakes District Council is powerless to do anything more about the problem, chief executive Adam Feeley says.

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 said.

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 stomach bug.

''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 our resolve''.

''We must stamp [freedom camping] out before it starts to beat us.''

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 are doing.

''We share your pain, we don't enjoy it any more than you do.''

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.


Freedom camping

On a recent vist to Queenstown I was amazed that the camp ground was so empty and I could not find the person running the camp. Freedom camping with the right certificates can be managed, people who are just party people have to be fined heavily. 

I have freedom camped for 40 odd years without leaving any mess anywhere. [abridged]

Freedom Camping

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 Zealand. What Dr Peraro does not mention that most of the motorhomes that freedom camp are fully self-contained, and do not drop human or waste from shower or dishes into the enviorment. Maybe his time will be better spent getting the farmers to comply with the animal, and fertilizer waste from reaching the waterways.

How many cars do we see stopped on the side of the road during a day out, and people relieving themselves in the bushes, then leaving the toilet paper on the ground?

Freedom camping

Well said Kiwiiano.  Dr Pezaro really didn't think this one through. 

I'm a Brit.  I come to New Zealand for 5-6 months every year and keep my Certificated Self Contained  motorhome here. I have never had the need to 'go' outside because I have very nice facilities in my motorhome - and I can wash my hands properly too.

How often do we all see children taken short beside a car or on a country walk?  I have also come to believe that it seems to be a Kiwi tradition to have a pee au natural.

So, Dr Pezaro, do you still really think that it will be freedom campers who will be to blame when norovirus strikes?

Day visitors often the cause

We live near a lake and a river and believe me, it is often the families or groups who go for a day's boating or a picnic - it certainly isn't the campervans that are just the problem and I think this is getting it all out of proportion.

Is he going to suggest stopping all people going for a picnic by the lake - where does he think people go to the toilet when they go out in their boat for the day to a beach - I hate to think how often I have found a dirty nappy, a box of empty beer bottles or a rubbish bag left behind by a group of people who have been there just for the day and then gone home at night leaving it for someone else to clean up.

The QLDC is very un-user friendly to NZMCA members and campervans now and this is hurting the retail industry in the area as contrary to popular opinion campers do come and and spend a lot on food, fuel, general retail and entertainment, but if they are not made welcome they will move on.

We have a self-contained responsible camper certified van but we don't stay in Wanaka or Queenstown any longer as no-one will accept us at their camp as we have a small dog. Their loss as we usually go out for our meals and shop quite freely when we are on holiday.


Oh come on! Do you really think we are all that stupid to believe that what has happened to our waterways is caused by a few campers? We all know that the increase in dairy farming in the cause.

Maybe you are too old to camp the way we grew up camping, but that does not mean others are.


Good old Dennis - he probably has a batch, caravan or hotel somewhere overseas to holiday in but for those of us who don't share such luxury then the tent and freedom camping works nicely.

Has Dennis ever been freedom camping?

Now if the visitors from overseas don't look after our environment then don't blame and then punish those of us who live locally and camp freedom style - We have being doing it for generations and don't need a bunch of university grads rewriting the rules according to their likes and dislikes.

I have yet to meet one freedom camper who leaves any trace of having been out there behind. [abridged]




Runaway horse

It's not horses that are doing the sh*****g.

If in doubt, ban it

I fear Dr Pezaro is trying the slam the stable door after the horse has bolted. As he notes, anyone drinking from streams in NZ is already asking for trouble, although whether you should point the finger at campers or possums and/or livestock is moot. I'd only agree with him as far as limiting non-self-contained campervans, but to carry his request to the logical extreme, we would have to ban trampers as well, or make a portaloo a compusory component in every backpack. Yeah, right!