KiwiCamp planned in Seaforth Rd
A new freedom camping facility in Waihi Beach called KiwiCamp may be ready this summer.
Western Bay of Plenty District Council is working on a new facility to manage freedom campers at the beach. KiwiCamp is planned for a Seaforth Road carpark on the 100km stretch of road to Bowentown.
The carpark is already a freedom camping site under the existing bylaw but no services are currently provided to campers.
KiwiCamp founder Chris Wagner visited the site recently, and he says the KiwiCamp concept is not just for freedom campers.
An ablution block with disabled access will be set up with several showers, toilets, a dish washing room and laundry access. Drinking water as well as a wireless internet connection for campers will also be included.
“It won’t be just for tourists to camp but also for locals to use the facility during the day,” Chris says.
The toilets and a waste/recycling facility will be available to the public at no charge. Campers will pay a one-off fee for using the other services.
Council’s Reserves and Facilities Manager Peter Watson says it will help alleviate the flow of campers coming into the area on high season.
“This will help us manage freedom camping in the Waihi Beach area which is where the greatest number of compliance issues arise for Council over the peak of summer,” he says. “The KiwiCamp model allows running costs to be recovered through a charge system — Kiwicash — a simple pay-as-you-go solution that gives campers great facilities, paid for by freedom campers,” he says.
The site was chosen because it already has utilities — water, sewerage and power — and it is away from residential properties. It is also close to the beach, the cycleway network and has cellphone network availability, Peter says.
For the KiwiCamp director, the concept is a win-win for the Council and local residents.
“Users of the facility will pay for its maintenance [via the fees], not the ratepayers.
“The extra money that KiwiCamp makes will stay local. It goes back to locals for different community projects,” he says.
Western Bay of Plenty District Council was granted $340,000 from Central Government to help manage freedom camping districtwide.
The grant includes funding for the KiwiCamp in Waihi Beach, installation of Smart Bin technology at freedom camping sites and increasing compliance monitoring district-wide.
There are 47 freedom camping sites across the district governed by Council’s Freedom Camping Bylaw which requires all freedom camping to be in selfcontained vehicles. Council employs a security firm from October to March to monitor and ensure compliance with the bylaw.
The funding is part of an $8.5 million funding package announced by Government for nationwide initiatives to be put in place in time for this summer.
WBOP District Council applied to Government for additional funding through the Tourism Facilities Development Grants Fund to manage and improve facilities and monitoring for the increasing numbers of freedom campers.
Western Bay Mayor Garry Webber salutes the initiative from Council’s staff.
“This application for funding was a staff initiative to generate additional funding to meet the increasing needs of freedom camping in the Western Bay.
“Clearly the $340,000 is proof that we have put our case very well to Government,” he says.
The grant is conditional on installation of the KiwiCamp and other facilities being built by December.
Mayor Webber says he is keen to see work starting as soon as possible in Waihi Beach.
“We have quite a short time frame and this will be challenging so we need to get started,” he says.
Example of KiwiCamp toilets. (Right): The KiwiCamp facility to be installed at Waihi Beach.
The location of a potential KiwiCamp in Waihi Beach to be built by December.