Majority of freedom camping fines unpaid in Waitaki District

Freedom campers in the Waitaki are are not paying accumulating fines. Photo / 123RF
Freedom campers in the Waitaki are are not paying accumulating fines. Photo / 123RF

About 80% of the 85  fines handed out  for breaches of the Waitaki district's Responsible Freedom Camping Bylaw since December 1 have not been paid yet, the  district council says. 

Fines totalling $17,000 were issued  to freedom campers across the district. Of the infringement notices issued, each for  $200, 15 ($3000) had been paid while 58 ($11,600) were outstanding.

The remaining 12, worth $2400, had been withdrawn.

Since the start of the 2017-18 financial year on July 1, 365 infringement notices had been issued.

Of those, 98 (27%) were handed out at locations in Waianakarua Rd and 83 (23%) in Maheno-All Day Bay Rd.

Forty-one (11%) were handed out in Beach Rd, while a total of 47 (13%) were issued in Esplanade Rd and Waterfront Rd in Oamaru respectively.

Fines can be issued for breaches such as freedom camping in prohibited areas, or in non self-contained vehicles.

Since the bylaw came into effect in September 2016, Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said  many of the issues that plagued areas in the past, such as Campbells Bay at Kakanui, had ceased.

In the summer of 2015-16 up to 200 people stayed at Campbells Bay on busy nights, which resulted in the toilet block failing on occasions over the summer and waste and rubbish being left behind by campers.

Many Kakanui residents voiced their displeasure and demanded the council take action.
In October, freedom camping on an area of land at Campbells Bay owned by the Kakanui Ratepayers and Improvement Society was banned after  up to five self-contained camper vans were permitted to stay overnight on the land as a trial.

Mr Kircher said that decision, in addition to the bylaw, had helped solve several problems.
"There is probably still pressure at All Day Bay [at Kakanui] but I think a lot of the pressure at Campbells Bay has disappeared ... it's probably displaced some people, so they're going to other areas.

"The measures we have put in place certainly reduced a lot of the issues and we are certainly not seeing the major friction that we were getting. Compared to some of the other districts, we seem to be doing OK.

"There's certainly more that we need to do around being welcoming so we will keep working on those things, but also controlling where and how the activity happens."
Freedom camping in Waitaki is limited to specific areas for a maximum of three nights in a four-week consecutive period.

- Otago Daily Times

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