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Council welcomes funding to help investigate solutions

Kaikōura District Council will receive $35,650 of funding to work with the community to investigate solutions for managing freedom camping in the coastal area along Kiwa Road.

The Minister of Tourism, Kelvin Davis announced the funding as part of the second round of the Tourism Infrastructure Fund. A total of $19,616,925 was awarded through 42 applications across 31 councils and community organisations.

The funding will go towards consultation and a feasibility study for the coastal area around Kiwa Road, providing Council and the community with the information it needs to make decisions about the future use of the area.

CEO Angela Oosthuizen explained why the funding was needed and how it would be used, “several areas along Kiwa road are used heavily by campers and residents. Over the peak summer period in 2017/18 Kaikōura District Council counted up to 115 campers a night. The area incorporates the Meatworks surf beach and is only a kilometre from the Mangamaunu surf beach and is used by locals and visitors of all ages. It’s also the venue of the Cold Water Classic annual surfing competition.”

“Right now the heavy use of the Kiwa Road area without appropriate supporting infrastructure is resulting in damage to the environment and causing concern for residents. It’s bad enough that an area along the beach is currently closed due to the potential health risk from people using planted areas as toilets.”

“When thinking about the future of the area, it’s important we understand the views of iwi, residents and locals and what the options and costs are for providing suitable infrastructure, restoring and retaining the pristine environment and enhancing the visitor and resident experience. This funding will be used to help both Council and the community understand their options and associated costs so that we can have an informed and constructive discussion about what the right way forward is.”

A Responsible Camping Working Group was established in mid-2018 to find permanent solutions to managing responsible freedom camping across Kaikōura. The group will be making recommendations to the September Council meeting around how suitable it feels more than 50 sites across the district are for camping. According to Oosthuizen, the two projects will work well together “this funding will allow Council to gain an in-depth understanding of issues and potential solutions for Kiwa road while the responsible camping working group works towards solutions for the district as a whole” she said.

Oosthuizen explained that Council estimates a minimum of 25,000 vehicles freedom camp in Kaikōura each year. Council expects this figure to rise significantly over coming years. She added that the November 2016 earthquake significantly changed the coastal environment, including camping options. Kiwa Road is currently the only coastal camping location between the Hapuku and Wai o Toa/Clarence Rivers. Once the works along SH1 are completed, NZTA and KiwiRail have indicated that there are likely to be two toilet facilities along State Highway 1, with other areas where parties may be able to camp.

The consultation and a feasibility study funded from the TIF money will look at the costs, benefits and drawbacks of;

- Providing adequate facilities for day and overnight visitors and for events

- Working with the community to enhance the tourism experience and welcome tourists to this area

- What infrastructure, education or regulation is needed to preserve the environment

- Working with the runanga and local community groups to share the unique cultural heritage of the area with residents and visitors

- diversified tourism opportunities in the area, allowing for business development and employment

The key parties that will be part of the consultation will include the Responsible Camping Working Group, Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura, Mangamaunu Marae, Environment Canterbury, Department of Conservation, Kaikōura holiday parks, Kiwa road residents, Kaikōura board riders association, community and businesses.

The Tourism Infrastructure Fund provides up to $25 million per year for the development of tourism-related infrastructure to support local communities facing pressure from tourism growth.

CEO Angela Oosthuizen said “as a district with high visitor numbers but a small ratepayer base, central government funding to contribute towards the cost of tourism on our infrastructure and natural environment is always welcome”

Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis said “managed well, tourism growth can significantly boost our economy, bring wealth to the regions and improve New Zealanders’ quality of life by creating more vibrant communities.

Minister Davis also highlighted that the government is considering how responsible camping legislation might need to change for everyone’s benefit and is implementing an international visitor levy to provide sustainable funding for infrastructure and conservation.

Kaikōura District Council was also recently awarded $200,000 from the Provincial Growth Fund for three development projects. The funding will go towards business cases and feasibility studies for a proposed Marine Centre of Excellence, developing the Kaikōura airport and developing the Kaikōura marina and harbour.

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