Campers generate 16 tonnes of trash
Four Central Otago freedom camping sites are buckling under the pressure of their own popularity, with contractors clearing more than 16 tonnes of rubbish in two months.
The Bendigo, Jacksons, Champagne and Lowburn freedom camping sites have not yet reached peak season but visitor numbers are up on last summer at more than 30,000 since the first week of November.
With campers comes rubbish – 16,225kg of it. The sites were upgraded in 2017 to include new toilets and solar-powered selfcompacting bins.
Land Information NZ spokesman Coen Lammers said contractor Fulton Hogan was ‘‘working hard’’ to stay on top of the rubbish collection and the cleaning of the increased number of toilets on the sites.
Vehicle counters show Bendigo hosting 10,329 visitors between November 4 and January 6. In the week up to January 6, 1628 stayed at the campsite on the shores of Lake Dunstan.
The Lowburn site was not far behind with 9999 visitors over the same period.
A new three-day maximum stay limit and the use of security contractors had been successful at this stage of the summer, Lammers said. Security staff had been educating and monitoring campers, and enforcing the maximum stay periods.
The response had been ‘‘overwhelmingly positive’’, he said.
Nearly all campers had moved on when requested.
‘‘One overstayer at Lowburn Inlet refused to leave after a number of warnings from [security] staff and was presented with a trespass notice just before Christmas. The issuing of the notice went smoothly and without incident.’’
Security had also responded to complaints from residents over the Christmas and New Year period of campers at the Lowburn Community Hall and at Smiths Way. Both areas were now part of their regular patrols and no further complaints had been received, Lammers said.
Camping hotspots in the Queenstown Lakes region, such as the Red Bridge campsite in Luggate, have also been busy.
Queenstown Lakes District Council community services general manager Thunes Cloete said the council had issued 485 infringements for freedom camping between December 21 and January 8.
The council is employing 12 fulltime camping ambassadors. All Blacks Sam Cane and Anton Lienert-Brown flew to Southland to support a dying man’s last wish.
The pair attended a bucket list rugby match on Saturday for Winton man Blair Vining, 38, who has terminal bowel cancer.
A last-minute drama led to offers of help to ensure the All Black players got to the important game on Saturday.
Southland rugby coach Vining, 38, wanted a simple game with mates after being diagnosed in October with stage four cancer.
But a huge response from past and present friends and his Central Southland College First XV saw it spiral into a star-studded event.
Organisers kept the appearance of Cane and LienertBrown a tightly held secret until 3pm.
A minor hiccup in transport had caused some last-minute ‘‘drama’’, partner Melissa Vining said from the game’s venue, Winton’s Midlands Rugby Football Park.
The flight for the All Blacks from Hamilton was cancelled but within 45 minutes of posting about it on social media businesses and supporters around New Zealand rallied to get them there.
Two helicopter companies worked together to fly them from Queenstown and then on to the field, with the stars arriving five minutes before the kick-off.
Melissa Vining said the offers of help were overwhelming.
‘‘We’ve been dealt a really rough hand but you can’t be anything but positive with everything people are doing to help.’’
Blair Vining’s hand-picked team took on an invitational team selected from a flurry of offers made by past and present players he had played with.
A local company sponsored full team kits for both sides including old-school rugby shirts designed by Blair Vining.
In addition to the support of Cane and Lienert-Brown, the game featured well-known names Jimmy Cowan, Mils Muliaina – who subbed for Blair – Tim Boys, Corey Flynn, Jason Rutledge and David Hall.
Melissa Vining said a Blair Vining Sports Foundation was set up late last year as Blair wanted offers of support to go towards his and future college teams.
‘‘He’s a very brave, courageous and selfless person.’’
A curtain-raiser between the Central Southland College First XV and an invitational team handpicked by Blair kicked off at 1.15pm.
An auction, sausage sizzle and black-tie event on Saturday night all helped to fundraise for the foundation’s first goal of helping to pay for the first XV’s pre-season tour to Queensland in April.
Melissa said that after his diagnosis Blair asked her to promise his boys would make it to the tour – with or without him.
By the time he was diagnosed the cancer had spread to his lungs and was now also in his liver.
Above: Blair Vining carries the ball during a farewell game of rugby with his mates. And, below, takes a kick.
Rubbish overflows from new bins at the Lowburn freedom camping site, near Cromwell.