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Freedom campers have cleaned up their act and are causing fewer problems across the Queenstown Lakes and Central Otago districts this summer.
Statistics released by both councils show there has been a reduction in the number of complaints against campers compared to last summer.
Queenstown Lakes District Council media and channels adviser Jack Barlow said 9050 self-contained vehicles used the council service hubs between November and late January - 4552 in Queenstown and 4498 in Wanaka.
This compared to 8446 for the same period last year - 4033 in Queenstown and 4413 in Wanaka.
Complaints about campers had dropped from 80 between November 2018 and January 2019 to 57 for the same period in November and January.
‘‘Non-compliance issues have declined this year, which indicates the responsible camping project and the ambassadors are helping inform freedom campers on best practice and the right places to camp,’’ Mr Barlow said.
Central Otago District Council parks and recreation manager Gordon Bailey said there had been no complaints about freedom campers in December and January.
Data on the number of freedom campers for December suggested a decrease in numbers compared to last summer.
Although vehicle counters at certain sites showed an increase in traffic, that could include day visitors as well as campers, he said.
The council has no bylaw allowing it to issue freedom camping fines.
It used Cougar Security to undertake education and enforcement at freedom camping sites.
‘‘This year is on a par with last year, with few or no issues of note,’’ Mr Bailey said.
Responsible camping ambassador Neco Wieringa, of Wanaka, said he was one of the 16 ambassadors funded by the Queenstown Lakes District Council as well as funds from the central government to provide information ‘‘such as using the facilities, not dropping rubbish, not showering in the lake’’, he said.
He provided information on where people could and couldn’t camp ‘‘so they can avoid fines’’.
The ambassadors collected information from campers. ‘‘We have a long form survey which has about 60 questions’’.
The survey provides information including the demographics of campers, what other areas they had visited or would be visiting, and what facilities they have in their camper.
‘‘It just provides a bit more analysis for next year’s project.’’