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Only two people camping illegally in the Te Anau Basin last summer refused to move on and were fined, a report says.
Freedom camping is banned in many parts of the Te Anau basin including Queens Reach reserve and the Te Anau township.
The Southland District Council (SDC) and the Department of Conservation (Doc) have shared the cost of patrols since October 2011.
In an end-of-season report to a recent committee meeting, SDC environmental health manager Michael Sarfaiti said two rangers patrolled from November 1 last year to April 30 this year.
Of the 833 campers in 405 vehicles asked to moved on, only two refused and were fined, he said.
"The rangers are successful in moving freedom campers on using an educational, tourist-friendly approach."
Of the 405 vehicles, 278 were privately owned and 122 rented.
The patrols cost $52,000, with Doc contributing $26,000, the SDC $17,500 from rates, and the Te Anau Community Board $8500.
Mr Sarfaiti said the rangers trialled a new tactic in January, replacing evening and morning shifts with night-time patrols from 7.30pm to 1am or 2am.
"The rangers had found campers were avoiding patrols by arriving later and departing earlier," Mr Sarfaiti said.
Information collected by the rangers showed by far the largest group of campers moved on — almost 300 — were from Germany, followed by Australia (100), the United Kingdom (100) and France (about 95) and "other".
Only about 10 were from New Zealand. Most campers had stayed the previous night in Queenstown, with a smattering having stayed in Invercargill or Milford Sound. Most said they were on their way to Milford Sound.