21 Feb 2017

Almost 30 new freedom camping spots set up in Auckland

From Morning Report, 8:40 am on 21 February 2017

If you live in Auckland, freedom campers may be headed to a street near you.

The Auckland City Council has set up 29 new locations across the city as part of a two-month trial to try ease pressure on busy hotspots.

Paora Road is a popular destination for surfers and freedom campers.

Freedom campers have been a cause of consternation across New Zealand. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

As part of a two-month pilot, touring visitors will be encouraged to park up in areas ranging from Wellsford in the north, Western Springs in central Auckland or south to Orere or Awhitu.

The tourism industry said it was ironic the council was offering more free accommodation at the same time as trying to increase rates on motels and hotels.

The council estimated 320 freedom camping vehicles were on the roads or parked in public places each day over summer.

Auckland councillor and head of its regulatory committee, Linda Cooper, said that put popular places like Piha under pressure.

"There was a burgeoning problem in some areas. Some areas were experiencing pretty unpleasant, inappropriate uses of sand dunes and parks where there weren't toilets available, so we want to encourage people to go where there are those facilities.

"Overcrowding, parking and access difficulties, and increasing rubbish at popular destinations is frustrating local communities and other park users."

One of the new areas is at Margaret Griffen Park in Mount Roskill.

Local resident Susanne Young uses the park regularly and said in the past the presence of freedom campers deterred vandals from graffitiing local buildings.

She said parking and dropping children off for activities there became difficult.

"It'd be a good idea if it was restricted. I know people like to have somewhere in the city to stay, however if you have too many in one place it will end up causing problems for people who want to use the facilities and are local.

Each month campers bring an estimated $1.2 million into the economy during summer.

New freedom camping spots 'ironic', tourism industry says

Freedom Camping, freedom campers, Waitaki

Freedom campers at Waitaki, Otago Photo: Supplied / Waitaki Disrict Council

Tourism Industry Aotearoa said opening up more free spots could take away valuable customers.

Chief executive Chris Roberts said it was ironic more free accommodation was being encouraged at a time the council wanted to make things more expensive for motels and hotels.