15 Oct 2016

Tools to tackle freedom camping issues considered

10:33 am on 15 October 2016

Improving infrastructure and preserving the environment are two of the briefs for a working group set up to investigate the effectiveness of freedom camping bylaws.

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Photo: RNZ/ Tom Furley

The government wants the group, which is made up of 40 local and central government officials, to come up with better ways to accommodate the growing number of people freedom camping around New Zealand.

More than 43,000 freedom campers visited the country last year, with the influx leading to overflowing public toilets, rubbish bins and noise complaints.

Some councils passed bylaws to restrict where they could park, but they failed to fix the problems.

Local Government Minister Peseta Sam Lotu Iiga said the group would look at ways to better communicate with tourists on what freedom camping involves, what infrastructure needs improving and how the environment can be better protected.

Caucus run 21/07/15

Sam Lotu Iiga. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

"It's becoming clear that tighter local controls on freedom camping are having unintended consequences, more visitors with fewer places to go is concentrating campers in limited locations.

"We are working to give local councils the tools to get benefits for their communities from the freedom camping market, otherwise we risk missing an opportunity to see real benefits from these visitors, " Mr Lotu Iiga said.

He said when councils regulated at a local level, they needed to be thinking regionally and nationally about the impact.

The working group's report will be presented to the minister at the end of the month.

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