Waitaki District Council has welcomed the announcement by the Minister of Conservation (Hon Kate Wilkinson) and Minister for the Environment (Hon Dr Nick Smith) that new laws will be in place to better manage the impact of freedom camping in time for the Rugby World Cup. The Minister of Conservation explained: “Freedom Camping is an important part of our tourism industry and is a great Kiwi tradition and we want to see that continue. This legislation targets irresponsible campers that are spoiling our most iconic areas with human waste and angering the communities that host them”. The Minister for the Environment also noted that the new law provided Council’s with the “practical tools to control freedom camping”.
Council, Policy Manager, Fraser Liggett explained that Council had been “carefully tracking the passage of the legislation through the Select Committee process and Parliament over the last couple of months”. During this time further discussions with groups involved in tourism in the District, as well Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) had highlighted a range of “tools” to better manage the impact of freedom camping in the District, which Councillors would consider at a meeting on 23 August 2011.
Mr Liggett explained now the Government had passed the legislation, Councillors would be in a better position to consider the “most appropriate option for Waitaki” to manage the impact of freedom camping in a “sustainable, cost effective-way”. Mr Liggett also noted “we recognise the importance of managing the impact of freedom campers during the Rugby World Cup (2011). However, community feedback on this issue in May indicates that Waitaki residents and businesses are looking for a proportionate, cost-effect long-term response which addresses the worst offenders, but which equally, does not penalise responsible campers and visitors to the district”.