Freedom campers banned from areas

Freedom campers will be banned from the Shotover Delta and the Lake Hayes scenic reserve near Queenstown.

A freedom camping area near the Shotover Bridge will be expanded, and toilets built there.

Announcing the measures yesterday, Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult said his council would take a harder line against illegal freedom camping in areas such as Wanaka’s lakefront.

The measures, which will be put into place as soon as practicable, were a response to significant growth in freedom camping in the district this summer, Mr Boult said.

Enforcement alone was not enough, and the council had resolved to "take a harder stand".

"These pressure points are seeing overcrowding, risks to public health due to human waste, and potential damage to our environment with people bathing and washing dishes or clothes in the lakes or rivers."

Parts of the district were also being used like a "giant toilet".

"Despite what some locals have asked for, we’re not able to put a blanket ban on freedom camping in the district, nor would we want to. But we can aim to manage it better."

Residents were feeling "shut out" of areas like Lake Hayes and Shotover Delta, which should be "clean and accessible for everyone to enjoy".

Areas such as  Wanaka’s lakefront, where freedom camping was already banned, would be "policed strongly" and measures would include clamping non-compliant vehicles and turning off free Wi-Fi overnight.

"It’s unfortunate we have to take these measures, but our primary responsibility is to our locals."

Campers would be encouraged to use Department of Conservation campsites at the Twelve Mile Delta and Moke Lake, where a small fee was charged.

The council would also lobby the Government to put much more funding into building public toilet facilities, and providing more remote freedom camping sites throughout the district.

He would also be talking to ministers about reviewing the low hurdle required for meeting "self-contained" criteria for toilets in vehicles.

Next month the council would formally consult the community on a review of its freedom camping bylaw.

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