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More freedom camping sites for Whangamata

More freedom camping sites for Whangamata

Whangamata is set to expand its sites designated for self-contained and certified vehicles from eight to a possible 27.

A partnership between Council and the Whangamata Marina Society has resulted in the parking precinct at the Marina being made available for eleven fully self-contained and certified vehicles, just in time for Christmas.

Area Manager Garry Towler welcomes the consent approval and additional capacity. "Whangamata is a destination town, not one that everyone passes through. Therefore small economic drivers such as increasing freedom camping sites are important for the community."

Those choosing to stay at the Marina will pay a small donation but will have the luxury of ablutions and security.

Additional sites are planned in 2014 which will bring the total in Whangamata to 27.

We are also reviewing our Freedom Camping Bylaw, so if you have an opinion about the matter, please feel free to let us know by going to our Freedom Camping Bylaw review web page here.

Official freedom camping site information for Whangamata

11 sites at the Whangamata Marina Society (on a donation basis)
Four sites at infoPlus Visitor Centre carpark, Port Rd
Four sites at Beach Road Reserve
Additonal sites to be announced.
Visit our Whangamata Office or Whangamata Information Centre for up-to-date information.

Conditions of use:

• Only self-contained vehicles that can show they comply with NZS 5465:2001 will be permitted
• A maximum of one night stay; site to be vacated by 7.30am
• Persons must move at the request of an authorised officer

Why is freedom camping a hot topic on the Coromandel?

Perhaps part of the answer can be well illustrated by two recent incidents in Whitianga:

A non self-contained camper was fined for camping in a prohibited area outside our Whitianga office, for urinating on a public place and for depositing toilet paper.

A person freedom camping on Robinson Road discovered our historical tunnel and instead of finding a toilet, decided to leave their solid deposit in the tunnel for other people to discover as they walked.

Brazen - right outside our Whitianga office

Who does this kind of thing?

The regularity of these kinds of actions have caused passionate feelings among residents leading to a blanket ban in the past.

Today however, residents, councillors and Community Board members recognise the distinction between these kinds of campers and clean campers in self-contained vehicles (NZS 5465:2001) who are welcomed with relief for their care of the Coromandel.

Judicial Review of our Freedom Camping bylaw.

A judicial review of our Freedom Camping bylaw will also get underway in the new year follloiwng a legal challenge by the New Zealand Compervan Association.

"While we're are disappointed that there will be a judicial review we respect the NZCMA's right to challenge the bylaw," says Council Chief Executive David Hammond. "We must weigh up the rights of NZMCA members, the community, business and the environment,"

In August 2011 the Government introduced new Freedom Camping Legislation that allows freedom camping in all local Council areas – except in areas where Council specifically prohibits freedom camping. Council can also choose to allow freedom camping in some areas – so long as campers comply with a set of conditions.

Freedom camping is a complex issue – the legislation means that freedom camping is permitted in all local council areas unless Council prohibits or restricts it in specific places.

Our Council’s bylaw provides a number of areas where freedom camping is specifically allowed – so long as campers comply with our conditions. We actively communicate this through signage, our website, brochures, advertising and working with the NZ Camervan Association.

"While we welcome the potential economic and social benefits of freedom camping, this needs to be balanced by the negative impacts that poorly managed freedom camping has on our natural and built environment. We also want to protect our natural and unique environment, that makes the Coromandel a special place to come and live or visit," says Mr Hammond.

We have also been committed to reviewing our freedom camping bylaw, which is out for feeback right now. Our plan was always to put it out for community consultation and the best time for us to do this in the Coromandel is over summer when we have our absentee ratepayers (55% live outside of the District) and increased visitors here.

We understand that the general view around freedom camping is in certain circumstances subject to reasonable controls its acceptable. However that's why we're going out to our communities over summer for consultatIon.

We will now carefully consider the legal proceedings along with the results of our community consultation.

Summer rules are about more than just freedom camping

While the Freedom Camping Bylaw seems to be a hot topic right now, it's not the only part of the summer rules we're reviewing.

There are lots of other rules to do with signs and advertising, parking, control of dogs and commercial activities in public places - including Al fresco dining.

We've included these all in our summer consultation.


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