Campers 'flouting' rules

Overseas visitors Peter Kennedy, his wife Nittaya and their children Alex (2), Alan (6) and Alyssa (5) stopped at Butchers Dam, near Alexandra, to go fishing on their holiday. Mr Kennedy, formerly of Dunedin, believes camping grounds might be 'pricing themselves off the market'. Photo by Lynda van Kempen.
Overseas visitors Peter Kennedy, his wife Nittaya and their children Alex (2), Alan (6) and Alyssa (5) stopped at Butchers Dam, near Alexandra, to go fishing on their holiday. Mr Kennedy, formerly of Dunedin, believes camping grounds might be 'pricing themselves off the market'. Photo by Lynda van Kempen.
People freedom-camping in Central Otago this summer can expect the enforcement agency to take a harder line, monitoring camp sites and moving people on.

At a recent Clutha Management Committee meeting, Central Otago deputy mayor Neil Gillespie said campers at certain spots, such as south of the Lowburn dog trial grounds, were ''flouting the freedom-camping rules''.

''There still seem to be people who are definitely staying longer than what's permitted. If you're in a caravan, you don't put your awning up if you're only there a night or two,'' he said.

Those breaking the rules were staying outside the designated areas as well as longer than permitted.

APL Property Ltd has the lake-shore management contract on behalf of Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) and polices the freedom-camping laws around Lake Dunstan.

Mr Gillespie said the contractor needed to ''crack down'' on those breaking the rules and property manager Jeff Reidy said the contractor would visit the sites more often.

Central Otago has 13 camping grounds and freedom camping is permitted at six different sites - most near Lake Dunstan. They are Bendigo (three nights' maximum) Champagne Gully between Alexandra and Cromwell (one night), Jackson's Inlet near Cromwell (one night), Lowburn Harbour (three nights), Pinder's Pond at Roxburgh (three nights) and Fraser Domain at Earnscleugh (no time limit).

As well, there are four Department of Conservation camp sites - Dansey's Pass, Homestead (within Oteake Conservation Park), the St Bathans Domain and in the Lindis Pass in the Nine Mile historic reserve. Freedom camping is probably gaining popularity because the traditional camping holiday is getting too expensive, one overseas visitor says.

Former Dunedin resident Peter Kennedy (52) has lived in Australia for 31 years, and is now on holiday in the South Island with his wife Nittaya and their three children, aged 6, 5 and 2.

He hired a camper van and the family has been staying overnight at camping grounds but he believes the ''steep charges'' at all the camping grounds discouraged campers.

''As well as being charged for a powered site, we're also charged per person, which works out at about $50 a night in some places. That's on top of the rental of the van which is $145 a day, so it costs us $200 a day. For that we could almost get two rooms in a motel.

''Some of the camping grounds also make you pay extra for hot water. Quite honestly, I think maybe the camping grounds are pricing themselves off the market.''

Freedom camping was not an option for the Kennedy family, he said.

''We've got young kids so we can't really rough it, but I can see why people do and why it's on the increase.''

Camping used to be a lower-budget holiday, but the prices now, combined with the high price of fuel in this country, made using camper vans and staying at holiday parks a less attractive option, Mr Kennedy said.

''In Aussie we'd pay about $25 for a powered site and you're not charged for every person; I think that's more reasonable.''

''This is a beautiful country but it's expensive for us to holiday here.''

He owns a limousine business in Brisbane and it is his first time back in New Zealand in 15 years. His wife and children are first-time visitors to this country.

- lynda.van.kempen@odt.co.nz

Greed

Park operators don't care about what people want, just the money they get from them. We should all be allowed to enjoy camping in our country the way we used to. [Abridged]

Freedom camping

Those making the freedom camping laws should experience freedom camping, and they should not be influenced by the camp owners who have a vested interest.
What the camp owners don't realise is that in the end they will suffer if freedom camping is made too difficult and too expensive. If it's going to cost $200 a night for a campervan they can stay in motels, hotels or apartments for the same price. If there are fewer people hiring campervans the hire companies will suffer and so will camps because freedom campers do not always freedom camp - they always spend some days in camps to charge batteries and catch up on laundry etc.
When we hired a campervan a couple of years ago I was astounded at the negative image associated with it. We felt like second class citizens. Suddenly because we were in a campervan it was like all eyes were on us. Members of the public felt they had the right to question us and tell us the law when we had simply pulled over somewhere to cook a meal. People tooted in an attempt to wake us up when we were freedom camping somewhere legally.
I agree with the person who said some toilets should be provided, but I would add that freedom camping sites should not be too far out of town, because that would mean campers wouldn't stay as long and wouldn't spend money on eating out and other activities.
I'm afraid New Zealand is getting a bad image for this important money earning tourism sector. Tourism as a whole will suffer because you cannot force people to use camping grounds and spend more - they simply won't come. [Abridged]

Freedom camping

We needed to stop people from fouling our campsites and country.

I have camped with my family for many years and find the current answer to the problem for Kiwi families very restrictive and in places very expensive.

We simply need far more basic sites like the ones Doc provide.

I think Mr Key's answer is total nonsense, a law made by people who don't camp for those who do.

Fining people will never take the place of the needed basic camp sites.

 

Feedom Camping

Freedom Camping should be encouraged.

Instead of outlawing and fining people that are trying to have an affordable holiday and create memories of special places for their kids, I think that the area should promote freedom camping as a means of attracting people into the area for holiday.

People only have a limited budget. Central Otago is an expensive enough place at the best of times. Instead of spending that money on accommodation it could go further in the areas of food & entertainment.

Toilet and wash facilities could be erected to prevent people doing their business where they shouldn't. 

I think that the people that have been most vocal about freedom camping are the camping parks that are missing out on receiving payment for little to no service.