‘Piles of poo’ complaints excessive
A group of environmentalist beach users say talk of freedom campers using the area along a coastal Kaiko¯ ura road as a ‘‘toilet’’ have been greatly exaggerated.
Residents have become divided over whether freedom campers should be using popular freedom camping spot Kiwa Rd in Hapuku, north of Kaiko¯ura, which is renowned for its surf breaks.
Cezanne and David Lyons who moved in to their house over looking the beach in October run the Kiwi Surf Experience and the Kaiko¯ ura Surf Groms youth programme from their home.
The couple made an official complaint to Kaiko¯ura District Council and complained of ‘‘piles of poo’’, nakedness, and used toilet paper scattered on the ground. The area at the front of their property on Kiwa Rd was a health hazard and should be a ‘‘no camping’’ zone, they said.
However, other residents saw it differently.
Juanita Edelmann, who owns Seaward Pottery & Accommodation, said the stretch of beach had been an established camping ground since 1974, and campers weren’t a problem and should stay.
Others said the issue has been blown out of proportion.
One group of freedom campers, all keen surfers and environmentalists, lived in selfcontained campervans and worked in Kaiko¯ ura.
Many lived there because the rents in town had become too expensive as workers on the 2016 post-quake road and rail rebuild snapped up accommodation and pushed rents up.
Connor Stapley had to vacate his rental accommodation in town for the summer when tourists competed for accommodation.
Stapley said the group all lived by the ‘‘leave no trace’’ philosophy.
Marcela Acosta said she was in Kaiko¯ura to make a difference environmentally.
‘‘I choose to live here because of nature and I surf every day. It gives me something and I give something back.’’
Georgia Phelps felt the issue had been ‘‘over exaggerated’’ and ‘‘blown out of proportion’’, to get rid of freedom campers.
‘‘I’ve been here for two months now and I’ve never seen any excrement. I’ve never seen any poo around the long-drop,’’ she said.
Phelps thought the nakedness had been misconstrued with people getting changed out of their wet suits after surfing before heading back home.
‘‘It’s not people walking around with no clothes on, it is people getting changed to go for a surf, who are locals as well,’’ she said.
Phelps said it has been very busy during Christmas and New Year when the campsites, 15 minutes further south in town, were booked out.
‘‘It’s an amazing spot and it’s free, so of course people will come and use it.’’
Phelps said more toilets would be beneficial.
‘‘A lot of us choose to live out here because we want to live by the beach to surf. Theres a massive debate at the moment about freedom camping, and I feel quite passionate about it.’’
Surfers and environmentalists, from left, Konstantin Kleimann, Marcela Acosta, Connor Stapley and Georgia Phelps work in Kaiko¯ ura and regularly help cleanup the Kiwa Rd beach they call home.