Council pulls the pin on overnight camping

Visiting the service hub in Ballantyne Rd, Wanaka, on Thursday during their induction are camping...
Visiting the service hub in Ballantyne Rd, Wanaka, on Thursday during their induction are camping ambassadors (from left) Shannon Owen, James Anthony, David Richards, Gary Cass, Sophie Johnston, Samantha Orridge, Matthew Hodge, Hajo Spathe, Neco Wieringa, Kenzie Hamilton, Dan Supertramp and Beth Denston. PHOTO: KERRIE WATERWORTH
More boots on the ground, and no overnight campsites.

Those are the main tweaks to the Queenstown Lakes District Council's freedom camping strategy this summer.

The season officially starts when camping service hubs open in Queenstown and Wanaka.

Each will be staffed by six ambassadors, with the addition of two more during the busiest period, who will roam the district educating campers on how to camp responsibly.

Open from 8am to 8pm daily until March 25, the hubs will cater for travellers in certified self-contained vehicles.

During a maximum stay of two hours, they can use free toilets and showers, dump their rubbish, wash their dishes and replenish their water tanks.

After watching a "responsible camping" video and filling out a survey, they can also access an hour's Wi-Fi.

The Queenstown hub is in Hawthorne Dr, near Pak'n Save supermarket, and the Wanaka hub is at 101 Ballantyne Rd.

Project manager Craig Gallagher said a boost in full-time ambassador numbers from eight to 12 would allow better coverage of the district, and closer collaboration with the NZ Transport Agency and Department of Conservation.

By working with the company behind camping app Campermate, rental car companies and other councils throughout the South Island, there would also be greater sharing of information, trends and problem spots, and help to ensure the responsible camping message was communicated consistently.

Mr Gallagher said the hubs' Proceeds would go towards the Matakauri Wetland and Albert Town Lagoon restoration projects.

The council announced in August it would not operate overnight camping sites in Luggate and Kingston as it did last summer.

Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult said the ambassadors would encourage campers to go to camping grounds and caravan parks.

"We had a lot of camping ground operators say to us it was impacting their business ... and we agreed with them."

Last summer, the hubs enabled the council to collect valuable information data about freedom campers.

"We know what they're looking for, where they come from, what their travel habits are, where they spend, where they don't."

When he was first elected mayor in 2016, his email inbox was "crammed" with complaints about freedom camping, Mr Boult said.

"To get a complaint now is a rarity."

Nearly 15,000 self-contained vehicles and more than 30,000 travellers visited the service hubs between November last year and March.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has given the council $789,000 for its responsible camping strategy this summer.

QLDC camping strategy

  • No council-managed overnight campsites
  • 50% increase in MBIE funding
  • Ambassador numbers up from eight to 12
  • Infringement officer numbers doubled
  • More ‘No Camping Zone’ signs
  • New district boundary signs






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