Unauthorised campers beware

Campers who flout the Queenstown Lakes district's freedom camping bylaw this summer could be hit with a $200 fine.

Early morning checks recently began for summer and Queenstown Lakes District Council regulatory manager Lee Webster said there was no specific date when the patrols would stop.

The patrols focus on the residential and central business district - where freedom camping is prohibited - and then move to restricted areas.

Contractors spend two hours, usually 5am-7am, checking whether people are camping in prohibited areas and whether campers in permitted areas have their own water and toilet facilities within their vehicles.

Campers found breaching the rules can be issued with a $200 fine, under the bylaw which came into effect last December.

The former bylaw also allowed fines to be issued.

The checks cover Queenstown, Wanaka and Arrowtown and the council also has volunteers in areas such as Kingston and Hawea.

Mr Webster said the council was unable to determine a ''hot spot'' as such, because places patrolled are recorded as areas, such as Queenstown or Wanaka.

He said a judgement on whether campers had taken notice of the bylaw could not be made until after the Christmas season.

In the second week of January this year, Mr Webster told the Otago Daily Times there had been 511 fines issued since December 22 the previous year.

For the same period a year earlier, 279 fines had been issued.