Response to camp site issues

Issues with flooding, overcrowding and a lack of toilets at Catlins freedom camping sites have caught the attention of Southland district councillors.

So much so that the regulatory and consents committee yesterday endorsed the removal of the Weirs Beach designated site from camping apps and the council’s website, and agreed the Waikawa site had to be moved.

A report by environmental health manager Michael Sarfaiti was presented to councillors outlining issues.

Mr Sarfaiti said the Weirs Beach site had been overcrowded, and there were not enough toilets for the usual 30-50 vehicles on the site each day.

"The solution that’s been recommended is simply to remove it from the apps to make it almost invisible."

To reduce pressure at the site, the committee agreed to put it to the council to remove its advertising.

He also highlighted wet weather problems at the Waikawa site, where flooding was an issue and locals were having to pull campers out in wet weather — due to having no reception to phone a tow truck.

The council’s community facilities team previously chose to fund the sealing and fencing of the area next to the toilets at the Waikawa site.

The committee agreed to recommend the council amend the Freedom Camping Bylaw 2015, so the self-contained designated site in Waikawa would be moved from the existing site to the new sealed area beside the toilets.

"The next step to address it is to consult the neighbours by the site and get their feedback," Mr Sarfaiti said.

A wider community consultation process would not be needed.

Cr Darren Frazer questioned whether or not it would be simply moving the problem somewhere else.

Mr Sarfaiti said "in the next several years", it was unlikely to be a problem and if it became one, the council would reassess the situation.

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