23 Jan 2018

Freedom campers in Queenstown 'not playing by the rules'

5:51 am on 23 January 2018

Queenstown's council is planning a major crackdown on freedom camping.

Freedom campers at the South Taranaki break at Paroa Road.

Freedom campers at the South Taranaki break at Paroa Road. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Residents near Lake Hayes Reserve started a petition six days ago after the number of camping vans and cars blew out this summer, leaving toilet waste regularly strewn around the park.

"It breaks my heart going down to [the reserve], it's just taking a hammering", local woman Justine Farquharson said.

The council has already ruled that only self-contained campervans can stay at Lake Hayes Reserve. There are also toilets there, but that has not solved the problem.

Lake Hayes in Otago

Lake Hayes in Otago Photo: Supplied

A local counted 74 vans there recently, and the reserve should be closed for a year at least to give it a rest, Ms Farquharson said.

"It is absolutely shocking ... under the Shotover Bridge it's just bumper to bumper campers. And they're not even campers, they're cars with a bed in the back.

"If there are toilets in those cars they're not using them, so they are not playing by the rules."

Jim Boult Queenstown Mayor

Queenstown mayor Jim Boult Photo: supplied

Mayor Jim Boult supports the restrictions, and said the council would likely bring in camping bans and heavier policing by the middle of the year.

"Council is considering ways it can crackdown very firmly on people doing that," he said.

"It's just not on, they wouldn't do it in their own place, lord knows why they think they can come here and do it."

A Destination Queenstown spokesperson said it supported a tougher stance but were not sure if that should mean a lot more policing or outright bans in some areas.

Its chief executive, Graham Budd, said many legitimately equipped motorhome owners and responsible campers would be caught in the crackdown but that now appeared unavoidable.

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