No freedom camping fines issued

Education, rather than ‘‘punitive measures’’, has resulted in no fines being issued to freedom campers in the Waitaki district in the past two and a-half months.

While some had been warned for camping in areas where freedom camping was restricted and others for not having a self-contained vehicle in a freedom camping location, no fines had been handed out from November 1 onwards.

Waitaki District Council regulatory manager Andrew Bardsley said All Day Bay at Kakanui and areas around Ohau were particularly popular with freedom campers.

The fact no fines had been imposed was a result of high compliance with Freedom Camping Act 2011 and the council’s 2016 freedom camping bylaw, as well as efforts to educate, through two freedom camping ambassadors, paid for using the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment fund.

‘‘Waitaki’s ambassadors will be working closely with Mackenzie District and Queenstown Lakes District Council ambassadors to ensure a consistency around signage and the information we provide campers, with the aim of education and gentle persuasion to do the right thing, rather than punitive measures.

‘‘In talking with campers it is clear that the majority want to do the right thing. The freedom camping ambassadors have certainly been able to clarify the rules around where to camp, disposal of rubbish and the use of toilets.

‘‘Council contractors have also indicated that their behaviour is much better since the installation of new toilets at most of the popular freedom camping sites in our district.

‘‘We are only aware of one report of freedom campers breaching the bylaw. These campers were advised of the breach and had left the area when a further check was carried out.’’

Ambassadors would also log the number of freedom campers to help get better of idea of exactly how many passed through the district, he said.

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