Tourist not happy with camping fine

A tourist issued with a freedom camping fine while visiting Dunedin says the episode left a black mark on his New Zealand holiday.

German man Ralf Wegener was touring New Zealand in a campervan with his wife when they decided to stay overnight at the Brighton Domain in mid November.

The next  morning they woke to find an infringement notice for failing to camp in a designated freedom camping area had been placed under their window wiper overnight.

From the start of November freedom camping at the domain has been restricted to a certain area.

Mr Wegener said he had heard about the domain from other campers and from a website which listed different camping spots.

They were unaware of the restrictions as the changes had only recently been made and there was no information about them on the websites they were using.

When he tried to explain the situation to the Dunedin City Council in the hope of having the fine waived, the council told him it was not responsible for information provided by others.

The infringement was not waived and the fine was eventually paid yesterday.

While Mr Wegener said he understood there needed to be rules, he thought the council could have taken a more educational approach, instead of a fine being handed out during the middle of the night.

"In this special case, where obviously the rules have just changed, which even some locals are not aware of, it should be handled more sensitively," he said.

While most of the couple’s New Zealand trip had been wonderful, the fine and their dealings with the council had left a "dark spot" on the trip, he said.

A council spokeswoman said there was a large sign at the entrance to the domain which showed the designated areas and there were other signs to show where the camping areas began and ended.

Security contractors only worked at night where overnight camping was prohibited and their only role was to issue infringement notices, the spokeswoman said.

Camping apps and websites were regularly contacted about information which was incorrect but the council did not take responsibility for information published by  third parties.

Information about where freedom camping was allowed could be found on the council’s website and brochures were available at the Dunedin i-Site and through major tourism operators, she said.

tim.miller@odt.co.nz 

Comments

There are signs in the domain and they are very clear, obviously the tourists noticed the signs, and provably designated area was full so they camped outside it. Why did they look at some website if not to find an excuse to do that? Fine is well deserved and shouldn't be waived.

Follow the rules then there will be no fine. If such people who contribute so little to Dunedin complain after the DCC has spent hundreds of thousands of our rates on them-why bother? May be time to ban 'freedom' camping outright, just like Christchurch and others?

 

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