Camping boundaries questioned

The boundaries separating where freedom campers can and cannot park up overnight within the Queenstown Lakes district are being disputed by the body representing caravan users.

The New Zealand Motor Caravan Association has questioned the Queenstown Lakes District Council's freedom camping bylaw via law firm Chen Palmer, taking issue with how the council identified which areas should be off-limits to freedom campers.

The association's general manager, Bruce Lochore, said the argument was not about wanting to park up in the middle of town but about questioning the bylaw's boundaries.

''They [QLDC] haven't been specific enough in identifying why they need to have such large areas prohibited.''

The new bylaw came into effect on December 19 last year, replacing the former bylaw which also allowed the council to issue infringement fines.

Earlier this year, Lakes Environmental regulatory and corporate manager Lee Webster said under the new bylaw ''some boundaries have changed but the general principles are the same''.

The council's chief executive, Adam Feeley, recently talked to Chen Palmer and he told the Otago Daily Times the association took exception to the bylaw preventing people in self-contained vehicles parking overnight in urban areas.

Mr Feeley said the Queenstown Lakes district faced a ''constant challenge'' with people in motor homes ''coming into urban areas''.

''We are confident that our bylaw is valid.

''It is valid and we are entitled to put the restriction on freedom camping in urban boundaries.''

He welcomed ideas from the motor caravan association, such as having dedicated spaces in urban areas where caravans could park overnight.

With recent issues of motor homes ''parking up in motel areas'', the bylaw was valid and necessary, he said.

Freedom campers in self-contained vehicles are permitted to park in areas designated by district councils.

Hearings were held at both the Queenstown and Wanaka council chambers before the bylaw took effect, with many submitters concerned about pollution, including human waste, resulting from some freedom campers' stays.

However, there was some agreement that campers in certified self-contained vehicles, such as those used by New Zealand Motor Caravan Association members, were not those at fault.

Some vehicles issued by rental companies do not have toilet facilities.

Mr Lochore said it was not just Queenstown Lakes District Council the association was talking to.

In January, the association sought to challenge the Westland District Council through a judicial review over its freedom camping bylaw but Mr Lochore said court action was ''not the desire of our association''.

''We've actually made an offer to Adam [Feeley] that I'm more than happy to come down and spend time and look at the areas and consult with him on that.

''The approach of actually working with and talking with council is the approach we want to take.''


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