Freedom camping fines drop

Photo by Queenstown Lakes District Council.
Photo by Queenstown Lakes District Council.
Fewer $200 infringement fines may have been issued to errant freedom campers in the Queenstown Lakes region this summer compared with last, but some campers are still leaving rubbish and even defecating in public areas.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council regulatory manager Lee Webster said most offenders this summer had been ticketed in or near Queenstown.

''We've certainly issued less infringements,'' Mr Webster said.

''I can't say whether or not that's because there's been less people in town freedom camping or whether or not it is because people are adhering to the requirements of our bylaw.

''Maybe people are adhering to the bylaw but we do still have those issues.''

The council issued 794 infringement notices between November 2013 and mid-February 2014, 270 fewer than the corresponding months last summer.

''As a council we have to clear that [rubbish from freedom campers] away, [but] where we can, like anyone who's littering ... we try and find if we've got an owner.''

But it was much harder to catch litterers from freedom camping than those from households.

''With someone who's freedom camping it's usually just cans or rubbish without anything that will link it back to a vehicle.

''It's basically just us clearing it up.''

For some unknown reason the balance of infringement fines had tipped towards Queenstown, with ''significantly'' fewer issued in Wanaka this summer.

The council's first freedom-camping bylaw came into effect in September 2011.

When the Freedom Camping Act was changed in 2012, the council bylaw was updated and came in to effect on December 19 that year.

The public was consulted beforehand and this resulted in impassioned hearings, with many oral submitters bringing photos of rubbish left behind by freedom campers.

Some boundaries changed under the new bylaw but the general principles remained the same, including allowing the council to issue $200 fines.

Council enforcement officers worked for two hours in the early morning and could ticket campers whose vehicles were found in prohibited areas or did not have their own toilet or water facilities.

Mr Webster advised people to report to the council incidents of freedom campers breaching conditions of the bylaw.

 


By the numbers

Freedom camping infringement notices are issued by the Queenstown Lakes District Council. Figures are from November up to February 17 for last summer and this summer.

2012-13

• 1064 infringement notices issued

• 587 paid 205 in process

• 272 cancelled

2013-14

• 794 infringement notices issued

• 248 paid 437 in process

• 109 cancelled