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Featherston residents fed up with camp users

A serene campground plagued by rubbish dumping, human waste, and antisocial behaviour has locals petitioning for an upgrade.

The Department of Conservation’s [DOC] free campground at the end of Bucks Rd on the Tauherenikau River is a popular destination in the region.

However, the increase in visitors and the actions of some disrespectful people have locals calling for action.

At a meeting last week, Bucks Rd resident Ed Harcourt presented to the Featherston Community Board on behalf of fed-up locals.

“Our group have been acting as kaitiaki [carers] of this campsite for some time.

“We’re working with
DOC to try and upgrade the facilities here,” Harcourt said.

He said he was seeking a letter of endorsement from the Featherston Community Board because DOC would be likely to fund an upgrade that had general community support.

Although Harcourt did not request a community board grant outright, he said any donations would be appreciated.

He said locals were seeking a larger toilet facility, a picnic shelter that collected rainfall, and an overnight campground visitor charge.

Harcourt said the current containment toilet was claustrophobic, unsanitary, prone to vandalism, and inadequate for the number of people used the site over the summer.

He said charging overnight visitors would motivate people to respect the campground.

Last summer, several people lived permanently at the campsite, including one person running a firewood business, he said.

Harcourt said some “less-savoury” and “antisocial activities” were also taking place at Bucks Rd.

“I can’t tell you how many trailer loads of rubbish I’ve taken out of there over the past 20 years,” he said.

“We don’t want massive development.

“We just want people to go there with their families, have a decent toilet, swim in
the cleanest water in the region, and enjoy themselves without stepping over human waste and rubbish.”

South Wairarapa councillor Colin Olds said he would recommend funding the project and said DOC was obliged to service the site.

DOC senior ranger Sean Rudman said DOC was excited to be working alongside the local community to improve the campsite.

“Locals already keep us updated on any issues.

“These can range from rubbish dumping, people ‘moving in’ to the campsite, unpermitted fires, and antisocial behaviour.

“We would like to work with the community to keep this a family-friendly destination,” he said.

The board resolved to invite a DOC ranger to present them with options for the site at the next meeting in February.

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Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age who regularly writes about education. He is originally from Wellington and is interested in environmental issues and public transport.

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