Council issues dozens of fines to Christchurch freedom campers

4:09 pm on 7 May 2017

Six freedom campers a week are being stung with fines by Christchurch council officials since the city completely banned the practice.

Freedom campers in Christchurch carpark

Freedom campers in a Christchurch carpark, prior to the ban Photo: RNZ / Sally Murphy

The city council voted to ban freedom camping by any vehicle without an onboard toilet from 1 December last year, because of the large numbers of campers parking in popular spots.

The growing number of freedom campers had caused conflict the previous summer with local people wanting to use nearby beaches, but encountering sewage and rubbish left by campers.

The change affected five city areas and Banks Peninsula.

In the five months since the bylaw came into effect, 121 fines had been issued, the council said.

Council acting head of regulatory compliance Claire Le Grice said that compared to just three notices issued over the same period the previous year.

At the time the ban was introduced, Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel said it was about making visitors welcome, but protecting the environment at the same time.

Freedom camping has caused tension between locals and visitors in several places around the country.

Residents in the West Coast town of Punakaiki asked their council to set up a no-go zone for freedom campers, and the trustees of a Māori reserve chained off the site earlier this year to prevent people camping on their ancestral land.