Our responsible freedom camping ambassadors are go!
26 November 2019
Local ‘good sorts’ giving up summer chill time to educate freedom campers, the ambassadors have now completed training and begin their evening visits to the district’s designated freedom camping sites on Friday 13 December, in time for the peak holiday period.
The ambassadors form a significant component of this summer’s enhanced freedom camping management programme.
“Whangarei District Council has again secured funding from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to build on last season’s successful responsible freedom camping pilot programme aimed at managing the thousands of international, domestic and local freedom campers arriving here over summer,” says Whangarei mayor, Sheryl Mai.
“The grant enabled us to continue upgrading freedom camping signage and infrastructure and grow the key monitoring, enforcement and education elements of the programme, the ambassadors being an integral part of that.”
This season, the ambassadors will extend their evening presence at Whangarei’s thirteen most popular freedom camping sites by three weeks, starting earlier than last year on 13 December and finishing almost two weeks later on 21 February 2020.
They will add the four inner city sites of Tarewa iSite, Cobham Oval, Bascule Bridge and Reyburn Lane to last year’s freedom camping patrols at Ruakaka, Tamaterau, Parua Bay, Ocean Beach, Kowharewa, Matapouri Bay, Woolleys Bay and Sandy Bay carparks, and replace the Mt Manaia carpark freedom camping spot with the one at Reotahi carpark to address the large number of Te Araroa Trail walkers passing through Whangarei Heads over the peak camping period.
The ambassadors’ role is to greet and educate campers before the arrival at the camp sites of Armourguard enforcement officers, who this year have also been able to increase the number of officers and frequency of patrols through MBIE funding.
“The ambassadors and enforcement officers work as a team to promote appropriate freedom camper behaviour, with this season’s enhanced programmes meaning they can spread the responsible camping message wider for longer,” Mayor Mai says.
“This year the ambassadors have the added focus of encouraging sustainable camping behaviour, which takes freedom camping best practice from the level of responsible camping to proactively contributing to the well-being of a host people and place.”
While still promoting the responsible camping behaviour of leaving no sign of their stay when they go away, ambassadors will direct overflow freedom campers toward Whangarei’s commercial campgrounds and encourage all campers to shop locally, patronise local tourism businesses and contribute money or time to regional conservation organisations by way of koha for their stay.
“It’s about making sure everyone gains from hosting our visitors this season, and ensuring everyone enjoys their summer holiday in this beautiful district,” Mayor Mai says.