Campers warned to stop fencing off sites

Lake Aviemore in the Waitaki lakes area, a popular camping site in the district. PHOTO: REBECCA RYAN
Lake Aviemore in the Waitaki lakes area, a popular camping site in the district. PHOTO: REBECCA RYAN
Over-zealous campers fencing off their favourite spots in council-owned camping grounds in the Waitaki lakes area have been warned to stop the practice or risk losing the right to camp there.

Some fencing had already been removed by Waimate District Council staff before the September 21 opening date.

The council runs four camping grounds in the Waitaki lakes area - Fisherman's Bend Reserve, Briar's Gully, Te Akatarawa Reserve and Waitangi Reserve; and the Waitaki District Council six - Parsons Rock, Boat Harbour, Wildlife Reserve, Falstone Creek, Sailors Cutting and Loch Laird.

All are on the shores of Lakes Benmore or Aviemore.

In some cases families have camped at the same spot for years and in an effort to keep the tradition going, have taken to fencing off specific sites.

However, Waimate District Council assets group manager Dan Mitchell said some might be in for a shock when they arrived for their summer break.

"Because we have had issues in the past with people setting up sites before the season opens, we have closely monitored the situation over the last couple of weeks. There have been some instances where people have fenced off areas - these fences have been removed by our staff."

He said the council's parks, reserves, beaches and tracks bylaw gave the council the power to dismantle fencing erected by campers and "ensure people observed the rules".

"The majority of people who take advantage of these camping grounds and facilities play fair and respect their fellow campers by following our rules. The rules are not overly restrictive but have been designed to allow people to enjoy camping that is affordable, family-friendly and set amongst some wonderful scenery."

Waitaki District Council recreation manager Erik van der Spek said the council had not received any complaints, but was monitoring the situation.

He confirmed there "had been some instances of some campers trying to get in early in the past" and advised people to exercise patience and respect other campers.

If they refused, action could be taken.

"People aren't allowed to do this [fence off sites]. It is unfair on other campers. Some camps we can lock and physically restrict access, others we monitor and ask campers to leave. Those that choose not to follow the rules can be trespassed."

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