Elected members will be asked to approve public consultation on a draft Freedom Camping Bylaw 2021 at the Full Council Meeting on Thursday, July 29, 2021.
Queenstown Lakes District Council general manager community services, Thunes Cloete says there was a need for Council to continue to regulate freedom camping in the district, and that a bylaw was the appropriate method to do so.
"The Queenstown Lakes District is a significant tourist destination and has seen unprecedented growth in visitor numbers over the last decade, some of those being freedom campers," says Dr Cloete.
"The draft Freedom Camping Bylaw 2021 going before Council adopts the same approach as the Freedom Camping Control Bylaw 2019 but proposes to amend the current areas in which freedom camping is prohibited."
Following a comprehensive site by site assessment of 105 Council-administered sites where freedom camping could potentially occur, the draft bylaw proposes a number of new areas to prohibit freedom camping in, including:
– Coronet Peak Road/Skippers Canyon Road (to Skippers Saddle) – Crown Range Road – Precipice Creek Road Reserve – Moke Lake Road – Rafters Road – Motutapu Road Track End – HÄ¬Åwea Flat township – Whitechapel Reserve
The draft bylaw also recommends that freedom camping remains prohibited within residential and built-up areas.
Following more than 820 public responses already received on a freedom camping survey in July, a number of locations are proposed to allow restricted freedom camping, allowing only certified self-contained vehicles. These locations are:
– Gibbston Reserve carpark
– Glenorchy Domain carpark
– Camphill Road carpark
– Morven Ferry Reserve – Luggate Red Bridge Reserve
Dr Cloete continued that 70 per cent of the responses QLDC received on the survey came from residents in the district, and the majority of these residents supported areas which prohibit freedom camping.
"The Freedom Camping Act 2011 (FCA) allows freedom camping anywhere in a local authority area, except at those sites where it is specifically prohibited or restricted by that local authority," Dr Cloete says.
"The restricted sites we’re proposing to allow certified self-contained vehicles have been selected as they are locations where freedom camping can be managed through more specific and identified controls."
The proposed restricted sites will have a maximum number of carparks (except for Luggate Red Bridge Reserve) available for certified self-contained vehicles, along with a maximum stay of two nights at each site.
Dr Cloete says QLDC’s officers enforcing the current bylaw had reported that it worked well and that they issued a small number of infringement notices compared to the large number of responsible campers visiting the district.
"Our belief is that the draft Freedom Camping Bylaw 2021 strikes the balance between providing appropriate areas for freedom camping, while prohibiting the action from occurring in sites that are not suitable," says Dr Cloete.
If approved for public consultation, submissions on the draft Freedom Camping Bylaw 2021 will open at 9am on Monday, August 2, 2021, and close at 5pm on Friday, September 3, 2021.