Golden Bay locals angry about freedom campers

Golden Bay locals angry about freedom campers

Locals in Golden Bay are angry at the Tasman District Council's inaction over the ever-growing problem of freedom campers in the region.

Two local businesses have even taken matters into their own hands by supplying toilets and cleaning up after the visitors.

It's not what you want to see on your summer holiday – rivers packed with visitors and the mess they leave behind.

"We're seeing excrement [and] we're seeing rubbish," says local business owner Terry Knight.      

Freedom camping has become such an issue in Golden Bay, locals have had to take it upon themselves to deal with the mess.

Mr Knight and another Takaka business have installed port-a-loos at popular freedom camping sites.

They pay for the maintenance and also do regular clean ups – something he says the Tasman District Council should be helping with.

"[They should put] a simple container down in this area here to stop a lot of rubbish. Locals come down here and pick up rubbish," says Mr Knight.

He says the council has its head in the sand and refuses to acknowledge that freedom campers aren't going away.

"The thing is you can't stop this problem and it shouldn't be seen as a problem as much as something that we're just not dealing with."

By-laws in most of the Tasman district make freedom camping difficult, but Golden Bay has so far been an exception. That might change when the council reviews the situation in April.

In the meantime, Mayor Richard Kempthorne says the problem is tough to police.

"Some are being critical of the council's inaction. We're in a no win situation."

But he admits the locals shouldn't have to take on the clean-up themselves.

Campers 3 News spoke to in Takaka say the areas are strictly policed by councils, particularly in Golden Bay.

Mr Knight says campers should be made to feel welcome because they're still tourists who spend money in the region.

He says he will continue to clean up after the campers, and he hopes other local businesses will get involved.

"We want them to come here and have a nice time. It's a holiday all the time," he says.

And with the influx of freedom campers growing year on year, there's no doubt more will continue to have a nice time in Golden Bay on their own terms.

3 News