Freedom camping trial to end in ban

The Kakanui Ratepayers' Society has decided not to allow freedom camping on its land at Campbells...
The Kakanui Ratepayers' Society has decided not to allow freedom camping on its land at Campbells Bay.
Freedom camping at Campbells Bay in Kakanui is to be banned following a community-led trial that allowed five camping sites.

The Kakanui Ratepayers' and Improvement Society struck a land management deal with the Waitaki District Council over an area at Campbells Bay, 12km south of Oamaru, and allowed up to five self-contained camper vans to stay overnight on land the society owns. However, it decided this month allowing freedom camping at the once highly sought-after spot was unworkable, society chairwoman Rowena Norton said.

Policing the site was onerous for the society.

``We only really had one main monitor, and a couple of people helped out, and it didn't work because it was just too much for him,'' Mrs Norton said.

``In the long term, you've got to sort of have people that are willing to take the time to go down there, and a lot of people who have property there [at Kakanui] don't actually live there - they are holiday homes.''

Mrs Norton lived in Timaru but planned to retire to her holiday home in the area.

Two years ago, before the council enacted a bylaw, thousands camped at Campbells Bay during the tourist season, and some Kakanui residents described the situation as ``monstrous''.

The council-owned toilet block failed several times that summer.

Waitaki deputy mayor Melanie Tavendale, who spearheaded the council's freedom camping bylaw which came into force last year - and banned freedom camping in much of the Kakanui area, including Campbells Bay - said it was good to have certainty at the site as freedom camping at the seaside village had been a contentious issue recently.

``We've worked right through this process really closely with [the ratepayers' society] and looked at ways we could support whatever decision they went with, because we recognised that it was a community decision,'' Cr Tavendale said.

``It's been a really divisive discussion within the Kakanui community, in the past. I think whether people support their decision or don't support their decision, I think it's a real positive that we've got some move forward and we've got some direction.''

Mrs Norton said there could be some camping at the site on an invitation-only basis - Flying Kiwi tours were expected to return.

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