28 Jul 2016

Councillors vote to outlaw Christchurch freedom camping

5:55 pm on 28 July 2016

Christchurch city councillors have today voted in favour of making permanent a temporary ban on freedom campers without toilets on board their vehicles.

Freedom campers in Christchurch carpark

Freedom campers in a Christchurch carpark. Photo: RNZ / Sally Murphy

The temporary ban was introduced after a 2015 Christchurch City Council bylaw failed to control an influx of visitors and led to overcrowding and conflict with local residents.

The bylaw attempted to corral campers together at five spots but the council found they were overwhelmed and closed them.

Councillors today voted in favour of a permanent ban on those wanting to use the five locations regardless of whether they had a toilet on board.

Those with toilets would still be allowed to camp elsewhere but those without them would be completely banned in Christchurch and Banks Peninsula.

Lianne Dalziel

Lianne Dalziel Photo: Supplied

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel wanted to know what impact the bylaw had had on local camping grounds.

"I've got an anecdotal response from South New Brighton. They said it was a 30 percent reduction in their normal usage, and their usage hadn't gone down since the earthquakes until we brought in the freedom camping bylaw."

Ms Dalziel called for a joined-up approach from councils around the country and for the government to step in and amend the Freedom Camping Act.

"Because you can't tell a tourist coming into New Zealand we've got one set of rules in this council, another set of rules in that council... one set of rules for DOC land, and another set of rules for council land and by the way you can't tell the difference between them."

However Prime Minister John Key, who is also Tourism Minister, has already shunted the matter firmly back to the councils.

"If they're collectively as a group saying, 'look, there should be one standard for freedom camping, that's probably a very good idea, but they don't need the government to make them do it, if they want to do it they should just hold hands and do it'."

The proposal will now be sent out for public feedback before returning to the council for a final decision.

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