Freedom campers doing things right: DCC

A trial of  an inner-city freedom camping site in Thomas Burns St seems to be working well.  More...
A trial of an inner-city freedom camping site in Thomas Burns St seems to be working well. More than 500 campers have spent a night at the site and only one has been caught breaking the rules. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Freedom campers in Dunedin appear to be playing by the rules so far this season despite being slapped with more than 80 tickets in the past month.

Since the season officially started on November 1 there have been 81 infringement notices handed out to freedom campers across Dunedin.

Nearly 1500 campers have been recorded at the city’s three dedicated non-self-contained freedom camping spots, Ocean View, Warrington and Thomas Burns St during the same time.

More than one third (29) of the infringement notices have been given to campers at the Ocean View site.

Council parks and recreation manager Robert West said he was pleased with how the season had started though it was still early and the wet weather likely had an impact on the number of campers.

Feedback on the trial inner-city site at the Thomas Burns St car park had largely been positive, as had the feedback about improvements made at the Brighton Domain, Mr West said.

Improvements across the city  included increased security and signage, better waste management and more toilets.

All the popular freedom camping sites continued to be monitored leading into the summer holiday period and a collaboration between the Department of Conservation and the council would start soon, he said.

Both organisations will use some of the money they received from the  Government’s  tourist infrastructure fund to employ staff to as community hosts.

Their role will be to monitor and patrol Doc reserves and council freedom camping areas as well as welcoming campers and reminding them of the local bylaws, Mr West said.

Saddle Hill  community  board chairman Scott Weatherall said the council’s management of freedom campers had been "spot on" so far.

He put the high number of infringements down to the council and its contractors being more proactive this year and the fact some of the new signs were not installed at the start of the month.

New concrete blocks installed at the Ocean View site had also made the area much less crowded than in previous years, Mr Weatherall said.

"Whereas in previous years we’ve had up to 20 or more vehicles jamming into the area the blocks have actually made it much more ordered and on a average night now there are 10 to 12 which is much more manageable."

He was also impressed with the community hosts programme which was a much better way to educate freedom campers about the city’s rules rather than constantly fining them.

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