Grey District considers tighter freedom camping rules

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Many Greymouth locals and business owners were fed up with campers blocking access and were concerned about waste, pollution and safety.
The Grey District mayor is pushing for new rules on freedom camping and thinks the whole country should follow suit.

Proposals include tighter restrictions on the number of people allowed in certain areas and making some places totally off-limits to drive-through tourists.

Last night, Grey District council voted to put a draft bylaw on Responsible Freedom Camping out for public consultation.

Grey District Mayor Tania Gibson said it was time to take a fresh look.

"It's time for a whole re-set. We decided that we were actually going to review this before Covid hit, but I think now is the perfect time for the whole country to be looking at a re-set.

"We should have premium tourism, but a lot of locals use our sites as well."

Many Greymouth locals and business owners were fed up with campers blocking access and were concerned about waste, pollution and safety.

Lake Brunner Motorcamp manager Tony Spruyt said when tourists do come back, the restrictions would mean less mess left behind.

"Cans, paper and plastic bags, including poo in the bush," he said.

If the restrictions were to go further, the local community would get their beach back too, he said.

"There are only 10 sites, but there are about 30 vehicles in there, packed out. People leave..."

Lake Brunner Country Motel & Holiday Park Manager Tony Roberts said clamping down on freedom camping was a must while camping grounds were struggling to stay afloat post- Covid.

It will be a fine balance of welcoming tourists and appeasing the community, Mayor Tania Gibson said.

"I have sympathy for the businesses ... but also want to welcome campervans and visitors to the area."

The draft Responsible Freedom Camping Bylaw will go out for public consultation this week, giving people who are interested an opportunity to have their say and make a submission.

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