DCC considers new freedom camping sites

Robert West
Robert West
More sites for freedom campers in Dunedin are being planned as budget tourists flock to the city in record numbers.

Last year, passionate opposition from affected communities resulted in the Dunedin City Council dropping plans to develop three new freedom camping sites at Rotary Park in Highcliff, Brighton Surf Life Saving Club and at Puddle Alley, near Invermay.

Not long after, a proposed bylaw banning freedom campers in vehicles without toilets was rejected by the council after a close vote.

But with more than 12,000 freedom camping vehicles recorded in the city between January 1 and May 31, the council is now exploring every option to better control the situation.

How the management of freedom campers could be improved was discussed at a council workshop yesterday, attended by councillors, council staff and community board chairmen.

Council parks and recreation manager Robert West said a range of options were discussed in exploring the potential for more sites to ease the pressure at Warrington and Ocean Beach.

''There was a general desire for us to look at other sites, using both public and private sites, for easing the pressure on those existing sites.''

If the council decided to add more sites, it would also look at creating a set of criteria for the location of such sites, similar to those used in Nelson and in areas of the North Island, Mr West said.

Improving infrastructure such as toilets and cleaning facilities was also discussed.

''We've had good feedback from communities this year where we have improved the infrastructure, and we've had less complaints about waste and those other issues associated with freedom campers.''

There was a general agreement freedom campers had been better managed in the past year despite the increase in the number visiting the city, he said.

Staff would now work out how any changes would be implemented before the next freedom camping season.

''We want to continue to improve and there is no single answer so we are trying to improve each year,'' he said.

Mayor Dave Cull said he understood there were strong feelings about freedom camping in the community, but the council had to explore every option.

There were no set plans yet for any new sites and the council would take a comprehensive look at what was possible, Mr Cull said.

''There's no foregone conclusions and we know the constraints are difficult and it won't be easy to find appropriate spots and some might be that, self-contained, and/or not self-contained.''

''But what we have to do is do the work to find out first.''


The DCC seems to put heaps of hurdles against 4 & 5 star hotels, where the patrons pay real money and support the local economy big time. However, this council seems to float ideas that cost us money. Has anyone at the DCC done a cost benefit analysis of freedom campers? If they only contribute approx $20 p.p. per day to Dunedin, how long will it be before they break-even a new facility?

Queenstown and Christchurch have the right idea- ban them (Freedom Campers) because they are more of a nuisance than a benefit. Camping grounds already exist- why should the Dunedin ratepayers fork out their hard-earned money to a council that does not understand basic economics. Vote them out!

Christchurch would be a good area.