Mayor pleased with freedom camping fixed toilet decision

Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult says he is "very pleased" with the Government’s proposed new freedom camping laws.

Tourism Minister Stuart Nash. Photo: ODT files
Tourism Minister Stuart Nash. Photo: ODT files
Tourism Minister Stuart Nash announced the new regulations in Queenstown yesterday, which will make it illegal for anyone to freedom camp without a fixed onboard toilet.

Mr Nash said the new certification would be delivered by Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers.

"We felt, in discussions with this body ... this was the best profession to actually ensure toilets were installed and were compliant," Mr Nash said.

Under the process, details of which were still to be confirmed, compliant vehicles would be issued with a new green sticker, instead of the blue stickers which, at present, indicate a vehicle is certified self-contained, "which I’m told you can buy at the back of a youth hostel".

Additionally, a national register would be established, on which the certified vehicles would be recorded.

The Government had set aside $10 million for organisations, such as councils, to employ some staff to check freedom camping toilet rule compliance. Anyone freedom camping in a vehicle not on the register would be liable for fines, Mr Nash made clear.

Penalties would also increase overall, he said.

If the occupant of a rental vehicle did not pay the fine, "we can charge the owner of the vehicle", Mr Nash said.

Queenstown mayor Jim Boult. PHOTO: ODT FILES
The proposed changes would include a "transition period" of about two years for the new system to be fully implemented, once the legislation was passed, which could take about a year.

He said the changes represented a "pragmatic approach".

"‘It wasn’t pragmatic to ban them, but it was pragmatic to send them to campgrounds with facilities, or send them to council areas where there are the right facilities.

"International tourists fly halfway around the world, pay a lot of money to come here, and I think they expect to see what they see on the brochures.

"I don’t think anyone expects to come here and see the results of freedom camping without a toilet."

Mr Boult said when he was first elected, in 2016, freedom camping was "out of control" across the district.

Work the council had done since then, including establishing sweeping zones where freedom campers were banned, and implementing a bylaw through which freedom clamping was established, "we probably got to 60%-70% of where we wanted to go".

Yesterday’s announcement would take the council "exactly where we want to go", Mr Boult said.

A side benefit for Queenstown-Lakes was the proposed new legislation would likely mean a reduction in old-model vehicles, without self-contained facilities, being dumped at the end of their owners’ holidays.

"With a requirement to put facilities into vehicles, they’ll have a fair old investment in this vehicle, and we won’t have that dumping ... which is a major plus for us."


The fact remains, that I don't believe local and national government are aware of the number of people out there "freedom camping" - not for a holiday, but for somewhere to seek the basic human right of shelter to keep warm and survive, often bought about by unfair and unreasonable laws, exorbitant costs and wait times for renting, buying or building somewhere permanent to live... and who's responsible for that ??

I can see the problem, but solution is not going to be more fines - that's simply a means of revenue gathering for councils. As an example, Top 10 Dunedin was bought by government for emergency housing, Brighton motor camp has been sold and residents told to get out, North Dunedin camp Waihola and Waitati have permanents, problems and arguments with NZ Motor Caravan Association. The Dunedin Holiday Park at Tahuna doesn't allow permanents, but have been known to help people in need; thank you Richard & Kathleen, councils could learn a thing or two about dealing with the public ... i.e. treating them as human beings, not just "problems".

"With a requirement to put facilities into vehicles, they’ll have a fair old investment in this vehicle, and we won’t have that dumping ... which is a major plus for us."

And where do they get the money from Jim?? And how much are you going to charge these people for camping in YOUR camping grounds? - not everyone can pull $3.5 million out of their back pocket!!

Nice new facilities in the background, but I think you may be forgetting about a problem that you obviously haven't given any consideration to - Omicron and the lack of thousands of overseas tourists you're not going get to fill the spaces up. But it could be turned into quite a nice MIQ facility once the electrified deer fencing and razor wire's in place.

You just don't get it ... you don't always get what you want Jim, and sometimes it's because of influences outside of your control, sometimes because you make the wrong choices and get caught out. EVERY Kiwi has a right to their piece of of this beautiful country. Others think they have a right to stop that. Sometimes it gets to a point where good people treated badly start to fight back ... I think it's called a revolution - I just hope you're ready for it.

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