Have your say on free­dom camp­ing

Kaikoura Star - - OUT & ABOUT - EMMA DANGER­FIELD

The Hu­runui District Coun­cil is re­view­ing its free­dom camp­ing by­law, with sub­mis­sions now open for the pub­lic to have their say.

Each lo­cal au­thor­ity needed to for­mu­late its own by­law un­der the 2011 Free­dom Camp­ing Act, in­clud­ing sites where the prac­tice is per­mit­ted.

Mak­ing mat­ters dif­fi­cult for many re­gions is the fact that land typ­i­cally be­ing used by free­dom campers is of­ten not coun­cilowned land, mean­ing the lo­cal au­thor­ity has no ju­ris­dic­tion over it.

A state­ment of pro­posal for a Re­spon­si­ble Free­dom Camp­ing By­law was pre­sented to the coun­cil last week out­lin­ing changes to the ex­ist­ing by­law, most no­tably the re­moval of the to­tal pro­hi­bi­tion of free­dom camp­ing in the Han­mer Springs Basin, as well as the pro­posal to close the des­ig­nated free­dom camp­ing area in Rother­ham.

While the pro­posed by­law gen­er­ally pro­hibits free­dom camp­ing in all set­tle­ment ar­eas through­out the district, it does sug­gest per­mit­ting overnight camp­ing at des­ig­nated carparks near spec­i­fied pub­lic toi­lets, in­clud­ing at the back of the coun­cil build­ing be­tween the hours of 8pm and 8am.

There are two re­serve ar­eas within the Hu­runui district where all forms of free­dom camp­ing are pro­posed to be per­mit­ted — the Glen­mark Do­main and the Scargill Mo­tu­nau Re­serve.

Free­dom camp­ing is pro­hib­ited in most of the Gore Bay set­tle­ment.

For ar­eas not ex­plic­itly iden­ti­fied as pro­hib­ited, re­stricted or per­mit­ted in the pro­posed by­law, the pro­posal is to al­low free­dom camp­ing in self-con­tained ve­hi­cles only. A two-night limit is sug­gested to ap­ply to all free­dom camp­ing in the district.

The pro­posed by­law al­lows for a lim­ited num­ber of sites where camp­ing in non-self-con­tained ve­hi­cles, as well as two lo­ca­tions where tents would also be per­mit­ted. Un­der the Free­dom Camp­ing Act 2011, lo­cal au­thor­i­ties are given the power to is­sue in­fringe­ment no­tices and fines to any­one in breach of the lo­cal by­law.

Sub­mis­sions opened on Mon­day on the free­dom camp­ing by­law, with coun­cil keen to re­ceive feed­back on the ar­eas spec­i­fied, safety con­cerns, lit­ter­ing and road ac­cess to any given site.

Sub­mis­sions close on Novem­ber 8 af­ter which a hear­ing will take place be­fore the coun­cil adopts the amended by­law.

Once the fi­nal by­law has been ap­proved, the up­dated in­for­ma­tion will be added to the three main free­dom camp­ing apps used by tourists.

In the neigh­bour­ing Kaiko¯ura district, where free­dom camp­ing hits the head­lines each sum­mer, the coun­cil has yet to make any moves to­wards im­ple­ment­ing its own by­law.

Mayor Win­ston Gray said coun­cil’s free­dom camp­ing com­mit­tee had re­formed last Oc­to­ber, just a cou­ple of months be­fore the earth­quake struck, an event which put the is­sue on the back burner again.

It was coun­cil’s in­ten­tion to pick up work­ing on a by­law once road ac­cess into town had been fully re­stored. The main is­sue was that coun­cil did not con­trol many of the sites which were pop­u­lar with free­dom campers, Gray said.

PHOTO: RICKY WIL­SON/FAIR­FAX NZ

Kaik­oura has yet to adopt a free­dom camp­ing by­law.

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