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Campsite bidding for zero waste

Courtney Van Gorden and the Lake Ferry campground. Owner Mary Tipoki is implementing a zero-waste policy at the park. PHOTO/MARCUS ANSELM


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A South Wairarapa business owner is challenging “outdated” laws with a zero-waste policy.

Mary Tipoki of Lake Ferry campground introduced the policy after issues with litter and waste at the south coast landmark.

Litter bins have been removed from the site and visitors have been asked to take any waste they make away with them.

Current legislation means a campground should provide refuse containers “not more than 50 metres from every camp site”.

Tipoki said these rules, passed into law 1985, are outdated and have not moved with the times or with changes in local and central government policy on waste.

“There’s still a bit of work to do to make people responsible for their rubbish.

“What I’m trying to do here now is pursue the philosophy to take responsibility for our own waste.

“I thought we should show some leadership on this.”

She said she thought visitors treated rubbish differently when going to country areas.

“It seems to be when they hit the country some people think it’s okay just to throw your rubbish away.

“You’re dealing with teaching people to be responsible for their rubbish. And it’s a process and it’s taken time.”

Tipoki said she had seen no waste in the camp for a month, and she had a lot of support from campers.

Golden Bay’s Tōtaranui campground initiated a similar scheme.

As it is part of Abel Tasman National Park, the park enforces the Department of Conservation’s policy for national parks for visitors to remove their own rubbish.

The South Island site is aiming for zero waste by 2025; this year campers will be responsible for managing their own rubbish and recycling.

Courtney van Gorden is currently living and working at Lake Ferry with Tipoki.

Van Gorden is an oceanographer from California.

She said the zero-waste initiative was “very important”.

“There’s not always accountability of individuals in understanding where their wastes goes once it’s no longer theirs. Even myself.

“That’s really made me think about decisions about what I purchase and packaging, is it going to be something I can reuse or is it going to be something that just goes into the bin, and then blows into the sea and has a potential effect that again returns to us as humans as well.”

The campground land is leased from South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC].

Bryce Neems, SWDC’s amenities and solid waste manager said it was “great that the campsite operator is encouraging campers to take personal responsibility of their waste”.

“Mary currently has a challenge on her hands to encourage campers to dispose of their rubbish and recycling correctly in the bins provided.

“As operator of the campsite, Mary may find she needs to continue to provide some level of waste management services to ensure the camp follows the Government Camping Ground Regulations on disposing rubbish.”

Tipoki said getting her campground to zero waste would be a fitting milestone as the site celebrates its centenary in 2020.


  1. Congratulations! So very important to be aware of recycling and not contributing to adding to landfills and polluting the environment.

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