Freedom camping curtailed

Russell Mawhinney
Russell Mawhinney
"Irresponsible" freedom campers will no longer have the run of the Lakes District after the Queenstown Lakes District Council yesterday adopted its controversial Freedom Camping Control Bylaw.

Under the bylaw, freedom campers with tents or vehicles which are not self-contained can only stay overnight in licensed camping grounds and designated camping areas. Those in self-contained vehicles still have to camp in camping grounds or designated camping areas while inside new "no freedom camping zones", but can also camp anywhere outside the zones.

The bylaw will come into effect on May 21, timed to beat the expected influx of freedom campers attracted by the Rugby World Cup. It allows for fines of up to $20,000 for camping in the wrong place overnight.

Cr Russell Mawhinney, a member of the submission hearings panel, said in the 92 submissions received, there was much concern about losing the traditional camping experience and penalising self-contained campers.

"What we are trying to achieve with the bylaw is to regulate and penalise the irresponsible campers," he said.

"People who are non-self-contained must stay in a camping ground and approved camping areas, and there are options setting out where approved camping areas may be."

A report prepared by QLDC general manager community service Paul Wilson said contrary to the understanding of many submitters that there was to be no camping in the zones, the bylaw permitted camping "as long as the site was an approved and designated campsite".

This meant that the council, Doc or others could establish free, low-cost or commercial camping within the zones.

Cr Mawhinney said a nationwide camping Bill, set to be introduced in Parliament this month, would not conflict with the QLDC's bylaw.

"From what I understand from one of the Bills is that it reinforces what we are doing and it [the bylaw] will tie in with the Bill."

The council decided not to commission signs informing travellers of the bylaws until it knows whether signs are legally required under the Bill.

"I think the important signs are the information kiosks," Cr Cath Gilmour said.

"Hold off on the other ones until we hear what is required under the Act."

Cr Simon Stamers-Smith was the only councillor to vote against the adoption of the bylaw.

The banned areas includes sections of shoreline on Lakes Hawea, Wanaka and Wakatipu, and tracts of land around the urban areas of Lake Hawea, Wanaka, Albert Town, Luggate, Cardrona, Queenstown, Arrowtown, Glenorchy and Kingston.


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