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Freedom camping should be banned in the Waitaki district and visitors directed to camping grounds or holiday parks, according to Kakanui camping ground owner Allan Jones.
Mr Jones made his point to the Waitaki District Council on Tuesday during its public forum before the council meeting.
The council has deferred a decision on a freedom camping bylaw until later this year while it waits for the Government to pass legislation through Parliament.
Freedom camping should be banned anywhere within a 10km radius of a holiday park or camping ground, Mr Jones said.
He told the council freedom campers were a cost to ratepayers and damaged the environment.
For example, so far this year the Kakanui Fire Brigade had attended three fires caused by freedom campers, two at Awamoa bridge on Beach Rd and one at Campbell's Bay.
The intersection of Awamoa and Beach Rds was a common place for freedom campers, above a yellow-eyed penguin colony.
Freedom camping was also detrimental around the coast in the Kakanui village, with many letters to the council asking for it to be addressed.
"We need to get our heads out of the sand and realise freedom camping is a problem," Mr Jones said.
Fires were just one cost. The other was clearing rubbish and human waste left by campers. Mr Jones described freedom campers as "cheapskates who want something for nothing".
One problem was visitors being told by the i-Site in Oamaru they could camp freely.
He had had visitors calling into the Kakanui camping ground asking where free camping was.
Tourism Waitaki manager Annabel Berry said a draft freedom camping brochure should be ready next week, indicating the location of freedom-camping sites, and requirements for vehicles.