Freedom campers irk park operator

Kamil Szlago (29), of Warsaw, Poland (left) and Patrick Perkins, of the Top 10 Holiday Park,...
Kamil Szlago (29), of Warsaw, Poland (left) and Patrick Perkins, of the Top 10 Holiday Park, Aspiring Rd, Wanaka, discuss freedom camping. Photo by Mark Price.

Angry lessees of a Wanaka holiday park were delivered proof yesterday they are being disadvantaged by the rules over freedom camping.

Polish investment banker Kamil Szlago and his wife Sylvia spent Tuesday night in their camper van outside the front gate of the Wanaka Top 10 Holiday Park, in Aspiring Rd.

Mr Szlago told the Otago Daily Times the couple saved $40 by parking outside the camp.

During a polite discussion with Mr Szlago, park lessee Patrick Perkins pointed out while it was not illegal to freedom camp outside his park, Mr Szlago's camper van was parked across a footpath, on a recently sown verge, facing the wrong way.

Mr Perkins considered it ''disgusting'' the Queenstown Lakes District Council allowed freedom camping so close to Wanaka and he and his wife Tracey are among those arguing freedom camping should not be permitted within 20km of the town.

''There just seems to be a huge conflict of interest at the moment between the council and privately owned holiday parks.''

The freedom camping issue was ''raising the hackles of a lot of people, not only myself but a lot of other local residents around here'', Mr Perkins said.

Lakes Environmental is considering a new bylaw that would extend the no freedom camping zone west of Wanaka to Glendhu Bay but with an exception for a limited number of self-contained camper vans at Waterfall Creek, not far from the Top 10 park.

His self-contained van was costing him $200 a day, plus petrol, which was equivalent to the cost of a hotel and a rental car, Mr Szlago said.

''I don't want to pay extra money for facilities I don't need.''

He was only planning to visit holiday parks when he needed to use a dump station, fill up his water tank and charge his batteries.

A second van without its own facilities also spent Tuesday night outside Mr Perkins' camp.
Mr Perkins said it was quite common for people to use his park's facilities without paying and he had called the police on some occasions.

''It's disgusting. They come in through the early hours of the night and use our facilities. That's how cunning they are about it.''

A new freedom camping bylaw is due to come into effect on December 19, subject to adoption by council.



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