Have your say on freedom camping
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.
Kaikoura has yet to adopt a freedom camping bylaw.