Camp operator hopes camping hubs to end

A line-up of camper vans at the Red Bridge ``hub'' near Luggate. PHOTO: MARK PRICE
A line-up of camper vans at the Red Bridge ``hub'' near Luggate. PHOTO: MARK PRICE

The Lakes district sites providing free overnight parking and facilities for tourists in camper vans are due to close today and at least one camping ground operator hopes that is the end of them.

Operator of the Wanaka Lakeview Holiday Park, Glendhu Bay Motor Camp and the Albert Town Camp Ground Aggi Sanders said the hubs, set up by the Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC), had affected the Albert Town Camp Ground, but not the other two.

In a letter to the Holiday Accommodation Parks Association of New Zealand, Ms Sanders said the impact began to be seen in January, when patronage was down 24% and in February, down 13%.

"We're hoping this summer's action was a one-off action to get the whole free camping issue under control and to get the responsible camper message out to the rest of the world."

Ms Sanders said free camping "is not free".

"The taxpayer pays, and the more basic camps miss out."

QLDC figures show 45 self-contained vehicles per night have been using the Luggate Red Bridge hub and 60 to 70 the Kingston site.

That equates to about 6255 free camping nights at the Red Bridge and 9000 at Kingston.

Between 14 and 16 campers in non self-contained vehicles were moved on each week from the Red Bridge site, and six to eight from the Kingston site.

Ms Sanders said it "seems strange" the council was offering free showers and toilets to self-contained vehicles, which had these facilities on board.

"Our understanding is that council did this as the `self-contained status' of a lot of cars is currently, legally, a can of worms and that this issue will be sorted out in the very near future."

One positive effect Ms Sanders noticed was less "shower stealing" at her holiday parks.

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