Fears that new freedom camping bylaw could open floodgates

Freedom campers – coming to a reserve near you.

Council plans to introduce a new bylaw to regulate freedom camping throughout Auckland are raising concerns that it could lead to a significant increase in overnight parking at local reserves and domains.

The proposal lists more than 25 local Council-managed carparks where limited freedom camping in vehicles would be allowed in future, together with a similar number where it would be prohibited completely (see panel below).

The new bylaw is an attempt to manage the growing number of freedom campers in New Zealand and provide more places for them to go throughout Auckland, and to replace and unify legacy Council bylaws that managed freedom camping in the past.

Council said that under the 2011 Freedom Camping Act, it could not simply ban freedom camping everywhere in Auckland, and could only prohibit or restrict it to protect particular places and access to them, or on health and safety grounds.

“Our research has found that Auckland does not have enough places for freedom campers to go. This causes conflict, as there is over-crowding and illegal camping in unsuitable areas. We have been looking at reducing this conflict by providing more suitable areas to accommodate campers,” a spokesman said.

The new bylaw would also give Council the power to issue infringement fines, something that enforcement officers currently cannot do.

It said it had assessed 1000 council-managed carparks in Auckland to understand which areas needed protection from freedom camping via the new bylaw that has been designed to only have rules where they are required and “disperse the impacts camping can have across Auckland”.

However, some locals fear that such a dispersal will open the floodgates to freedom camping, including a number Omaha Beach residents, where three new locations are being earmarked for restricted freedom camping. Fears over rubbish dumping (and worse), environmental damage, potential for crime, a lack of enforcement and the implications for existing local campsites are among many that have been voiced on social media.

Rodney Local Board chair Beth Houlbrooke said the Board might seek some changes to the list of sites put forward by Council if feedback supported it, and said there had already been a “high level of interest” from some communities. The Board has also recommended that there should be flexibility to allow changes to the bylaw “with sites able to be added as prohibited or restricted if issues arise as a result of freedom camping occurring there”.

Auckland Council’s policy manager for community and social policy, Mike Sinclair, said the bylaw was necessary to increase the supply of sites “in suitable areas”, and give Council the power to impose fines on campers not complying with the rules.

“We do not have this with the existing rules under the legacy Rodney bylaw or the Reserves Act.

Currently, Council can only restrict or prohibit the activity at a site if it has robust evidence to do so,” he said.

“The proposed bylaw will provide the council will additional enforcement options in the approximately 422 sites where freedom camping is proposed to be prohibited or restricted across the region.”

He said he welcomed public feedback.

A Have Your Say public drop-in meeting is being held this Saturday, February 16 at the Old Masonic Hall in Baxter Street, Warkworth, from 2pm to 4pm. Feedback can also be submitted online at aucklandcouncil.govt.nz (search for ‘have your say freedom camping’) until Monday, February 18.

Restricted Freedom Camping – certified self-contained vehicles only
(x) = max number allowed per night

Maximum 2 nights in a 4-week consecutive period

Algies Bay – Alexander Recreation Reserve, Alexander Road (2)

Baddeleys Beach – Baddeleys Beach Reserve (3)

Buckleton Beach – Buckleton Beach Reserve (2)

Campbells Beach – Campbells Bay (3)

Matheson Bay – Matheson Bay Reserve (6)

Port Albert – Recreation Reserve, Wellsford Valley Road (10); Wharf Reserve, Wharf Road (10)

Snells Beach – Sunburst Reserve and Tamatea Esplanade, Sunburst Avenue (5); Kokihi Lane, Whisper Cover (2)

Te Hana – Te Hana Reserve, Whakapirau Road (4)

Warkworth – Cement Works, Wilson Rd (3); Parry Kauri Park, Tudor Collins Dve (3)
Overnight only, vacate designated site by 9am

Omaha – Pukemateko Reserve, Mangatawhiri Road, Omaha South (3); Rita Way / Excelsior Way /

Lagoon Way, Omaha Drive (2)

Rainbows End – Rainbows End reserve, Martin Road (2)

Warkworth – 8 Church Hill (2)

Wellsford – Community Centre grounds, Matheson Road (5); War Memorial Park, Port Albert Road (3)

Restricted Freedom Camping – non-self-contained vehicles permitted
(x) = max number allowed per night

Maximum 2 nights in a 4-week consecutive period

Algies Bay – Algies Bay Reserve, 39 Willjames Avenue (3)

Sandspit – Puriri Place Reserve, Brick Bay Drive (3)

Snells Beach – Sunrise Boulevard (4)

Warkworth – Kowhai Park (10)

Wellsford – Centennial Park, Centennial Park Road (5)

Overnight only, vacate designated site by 9am

Matakana – Wharf Reserve, Matakana (2)

Omaha – William Fraser Reserve, Broadlands Drive (5)

Wellsford – 118 Rodney Street (5)

Prohibited areas – no freedom camping allowed

Algies Bay – 17 Albro Lane; Highfield Gardens and reserve

Kaipara Flats – Kaipara Flats Cemetery, Kaipara Flats Road

Leigh – Leigh Domain, Albert Street; Leigh Hall grounds, Cumberland Street; Leigh Library and grounds, Cumberland St

Martins Bay – Grounds around boat ramp area, Martins Bay Road

Mahurangi West – Albert Dennis Reserve, Mahurangi West Rd; Jamieson Bay Esplanade Reserve,

Jamieson Rd; Mahurangi West Hall, Mahurangi West Road

Omaha Beach – Omaha boat launch and wharf, Omaha Drive; Omaha Reserve, North West Anchorage

Pakiri – Pakiri Hall grounds, Pakiri Road

Pohuehue – McElroy Reserve, Cowan Bay Road

Point Wells – Foreshore Reserve, Harbour View Road

Puhoi – Band Rotunda, Ahuroa Road; Puhoi Cemetery, Ahuroa Road; Pioneer’s Memorial Park, Domain Road

Sandspit Reserve – 1336 Sandspit Road

Snells Beach – Ariki Reserve, Ariki Drive; Goodall Reserve, Mahurangi East Road

Ti Point – Ti Point walkway, Ti Point Wharf

Warkworth – Council service centre & library grounds, Baxter Street; Shoesmith Domain recreation reserve; Warkworth Showgrounds; Town Hall grounds, Alnwick Street

Whangateau – Whangateau Reserve & hall grounds, Leigh Road


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