Free­dom camper finds spot with dif­fer­ent am­bi­ence

Otago Daily Times - - GENERAL & COURT - JOHN LEWIS

‘‘IT’S got char­ac­ter like no other camp­ing ground.’’

That is how Sam Cootes de­scribed Dunedin’s new­est trial free­dom camp­ing spot in the Thomas Burns St car park last night.

‘‘We’re stuck be­tween a main ar­te­rial route and a rail­way line.

‘‘It’s a lot nois­ier but it qui­etens down about 9pm.’’

The 26­year­old Dunedin man said he moved out of his rental ac­com­mo­da­tion two weeks ago, and is now liv­ing in a van at the site which opened ear­lier this week.

He is us­ing the money saved from rent­ing to mod­ify the van into his new ‘‘home on wheels’’.

He al­ready has a large dou­ble bed in­stalled, and is work­ing on cre­at­ing shelv­ing and a bench to in­stall a gas cooker. It even has so­lar power.

‘‘It’s an eas­ier way to live. It means I can see a bit of our back yard.

‘‘There’s a lot to see and I’m not go­ing to see it if I’m sit­ting at home.

‘‘I’ve al­ways wanted to do this. This was a child­hood dream and now I’m achiev­ing it.

‘‘I’m liv­ing the free life. I just hope it’s as good as I al­ways imag­ined.’’

Once his ren­o­va­tions were com­plete, he planned to travel fur­ther afield.

Mr Cootes said so far he was en­joy­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence.

The camp site has two por­taloos, a bench, a sink with run­ning wa­ter, rub­bish and re­cy­cling bins, and enough parks to ac­com­mo­date 65 ve­hi­cles.

‘‘It’s got all the ne­ces­si­ties for sur­vival.

‘‘It’s great hav­ing a kitchen sink with run­ning wa­ter. Hav­ing rub­bish bins and re­cy­cling is a bonus.

‘‘There’s a bit of splash­back in the por­taloos, but they’re OK.’’

The fa­cil­i­ties will re­main un­til late April, when the free­dom camp­ing sea­son ends.

PHOTO: PETER MCIN­TOSH

Liv­ing the free life . . . Free­dom camper Sam Cootes, with his new home on wheels, at the Thomas Burns St free­dom camp­ing site, in Dunedin last night.

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