Freedom campers hit in pocket

Freedom campers who break the rules in the Queenstown and Wanaka districts are being hit hard in the pocket.

Under the new Freedom Camping Bylaw, 511 infringement fines have been issued in Queenstown and Wanaka since December 22 - nearly double the number for the same time the year before.

The new bylaw came into effect on December 19, replacing the former bylaw which also allowed the council to issue $200 infringement fines.

Lakes Environmental regulatory and corporate manager Lee Webster said since the enforcement level was the same as under the previous bylaw, his only explanation for the increase was a rise in visitor numbers to the Lakes District.

He said for the period from December 22, 2011, to January 11, 2012, a total of 279 fines were issued.

''That's 232 more - it's getting up to almost double.

''It's demonstrating the influx of people to our community,'' Mr Webster said.

Under the new bylaw ''some boundaries have changed but the general principles are the same''.

The council's enforcement officers worked for two hours ''in the early hours of the morning'', the same as under the previous bylaw.

Mr Webster said 47 freedom camping infringements had been issued in the Boundary St car park, all in January.

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