Freedom Camping Bylaw

Freedom camping


Responsible Freedom Camping Bylaw 2020 adopted

At the Hearing and Deliberations meetings on 9 and 16 September 2020 the Council considered all written and verbal feedback from the community on the draft Responsible Freedom Camping Bylaw. The Council adopted the policy on the 16th September and it will come into effect on 1 November 2020.

About our Bylaw

Our responsible freedom camping bylaw encourages responsible freedom camping in our district by stating rules for camping in public places. This is to protect areas and the health and safety of people who visit the area.

The Council made the following comments in relation to feedback received on the draft Bylaw:

Specific areas for freedom camping

  • A maximum two-night stay in a calendar month will apply for all designated freedom camping locations as most locations are popular and the Council wants to provide access for many people.
  • Morgan Park carpark, off Kenny Street in Waihi, will remain in the bylaw as a freedom camping area for self-contained vehicles. The site can accommodate larger vehicles, however the number of spaces made available for freedom camping will be limited so as not to affect parking for other reserve users.
  • Freedom camping will remain a prohibited activity in the township of Kaiaua. The streets in Kaiaua are narrow and not well placed to accommodate freedom camping. There is also the matter of allowing people to enjoy their views and use of their property without the impact of freedom camping. The area is very popular with freedom campers and the Council has had complaints from the local community about the number of freedom campers in town. There is also a bigger risk to freedom campers if they are located around many places in Kaiaua town and not in a designated area, as the town has experienced flooding in the past from both the Huarahi Stream and also coastal inundation. If freedom campers are in one location it is easier to notify them if there is a civil defence emergency. Rays Rest, just south of Kaiaua, has capacity for up to 80 vehicles. The Hauraki Rail Trail Terminus will have capacity for approximately 20 vehicles and can accommodate tents.
  • Tauwhare Koiora, Kaiaua, (the area around the boat club) is of cultural value for local iwi, including being a wahi tapu site. The Council wants to preserve access for people wanting to visit the site for cultural reasons. This site is included in the prohibited area for freedom camping.
  • During the Bylaw development in 2013 the Council considered allowing for a small number of freedom camping sites at the Council carpark on Crown Hill road and also at Karangahake Reserve on State Highway 2. However, this is not allowed for in the Council’s Reserve Management Plan and with parking in the Gorge already at a premium it was decided not to provide a freedom camping location in the Karangahake Gorge. This could be considered again as part of future planning in that area.

General comments

  • The bylaw applies to Council owned or controlled road reserve (the side of the road between the formed road and private property).
  • The bylaw only prohibits freedom camping along areas of the Wharekawa Coast (Seabird Coast) and for justified reasons. Freedom camping is permitted across the rest of the district, however in some areas it is limited to a one night stay or a two night stay.
  • If no public toilet is available at a site then it is reasonable to limit the mode of camping to self-contained vehicles that meet the New Zealand Standard for self-containment of motor caravans and caravans. This standard means people can live in the vehicle for 3 days without getting more water or dumping waste.
  • There are many locations for freedom camping in the district that are not restricted to self-contained vehicles.
  • The Council cannot justify a ban on freedom camping within 3 kms of every residence. This would almost result in a total ban on the activity, which is not legal. When placing a prohibition or restriction on freedom camping the Council must be satisfied it is necessary to protect the area, to protect the health and safety of people who may visit the area, or to protect access to the area. Examples of this are to protect historic sites, stop littering, or protect public access to the beach.
  • The size of designated carparks for freedom camping will be larger than standard carparks. Council signage will be reviewed.
  • The proposed bylaw has comments in it to highlight that people cannot freedom camp on Council reserves unless it is permitted in the bylaw. This message will be included in our communication material about freedom camping.

Read the documents | Pānui ngā tuhinga

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