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Freedom campers face ban

Freedom campers will be banned from sections of the South Wairarapa coast under new rules.

South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] has adopted a bylaw that will prohibit freedom camping along some stretches of coastline and in central town locations, and restrict it in other places.

New Zealand’s freedom camping laws currently allow camping on all council land unless specifically prohibited.

SWDC’s bylaw gives council officers the power to enforce regulations through infringements and fines.

The council has also received funding from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment for the development and implementation of a Freedom Camping Ambassador Programme.

This will enable community members to support the monitoring and enforcement strategy.

At SWDC’s Strategy Working Committee on Wednesday, staff said the bylaw will help address the problems caused by freedom camping in a local and appropriate way and would be enforced in a “reactive way” if complaints are received about campers.

The council did not previously have a bylaw relating to freedom camping.

Councillor Aaron Woodcock and Māori Standing Committee representative Violet Edwards voted against the bylaw and councillor Pip Maynard abstained.

The intent of the bylaw is to enable SWDC to regulate and enforce how and where freedom camping happens within the district.

It proposes to preserve the status quo at existing coastal camping areas while respecting the new Freedom Camping Act and offering protection to vulnerable areas, particularly along the coast.

Included in areas where freedom camping is prohibited are: Martinborough Square and Clifford Square reserves, a 25km section of Cape Pallier Rd up to and including the lighthouse car park, and large areas of the Tora-Te Awaiti Coast.

In particular, under the bylaw, freedom camping will be prohibited on Tora Farm Settlement Rd and road reserve, Te Awaiti Rd and road reserve, Ngapotiki Rd and road reserve, and the section of White Rock Rd and road reserve adjacent to the coast between the Opouawe River and the Whawanui River.

Freedom camping is still allowed, with restrictions, at the following coastal reserves: Te Awaiti, North ToraSouth Tora, White Rock, Ngawi, Ngawi Surf Breaks, and Lake Domain.

Freedom camping restrictions would apply to South Wairarapa townships.

The land at Ocean Beach is Department of Conservation land that does not come under the definition of Local Authority Land and is therefore out of scope of the bylaw.

For further details on the bylaw, and for maps showing prohibited and restricted areas for freedom camping, see the council’s website swdc.govt.nz/freedom-camping.

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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