Council stumped on camping waste issue

The Waitaki District Council wants to get tough this summer on freedom campers leaving human waste and litter around the district, but it does not quite know how.

The issue, common throughout New Zealand with campervans and caravans that do not have on-board toilets and tanks, came up at the council's corporate services committee meeting this week.

It could be dealt with through the Litter Act with instant fines of $200, councillors were told.

They agreed the time had come to get tough, but could not come up with a way to police the rule.

"It's a very high priority. This is urgent before Christmas," said Cr Struan Munro, whose Ahuriri ward hosts many visitors during summer because of its lakes and reserves.

Cr Jim Hopkins said the problem was due back this season and the council needed to prevent it or penalise offenders. The council should have known powers to enforce. Anyone leaving human waste would be fined.

Regulatory manager Paul Arnold said the Litter Act contained a rule about leaving human waste, but the council needed a way to enforce that rule. Freedom campers could arrive at a site at quite a late hour, he said.

Suggested solutions included launching a public campaign, enlisting the support of neighbouring councils to take the problem to campervan rental companies and putting up signs banning freedom camping.

Parks and property manager Dougall McIntyre said signs were put up last year but some lasted only 24 hours.

• A dump station for effluent and wastewater from campervans and caravans should be in place in Oamaru within the next few weeks. This will be the only public facility available in Oamaru, although assets manager Neil Jorgensen said it had been a project with "many hiccups and unexpected diversions".

The council was originally looking at a site in Humber St near the Oamaru railway station, but opposition forced it to look elsewhere.

The facility will now be built on state highway land outside Waitaki Transport at the northern entrance to Oamaru.


Add a Comment

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter