Council freedom camper crackdown coming

Freedom campers in Akaroa earlier this year (Newshub.)
Freedom campers in Akaroa earlier this year (Newshub.)

Freedom campers could soon be banned Christchurch-wide, unless they've got a vehicle with a loo.

Christchurch City Council (CCC) councillors voted unanimously on Thursday in support of the proposal.

The council has received numerous complaints about non-self-contained freedom campers. The majority of the complaints have been in relation to campers not using toilets or disposing of waste water and rubbish properly.

In December, the CCC passed a bylaw banning freedom camping across most of the city, leaving just five permitted locations. The move resulted in overcrowding at the sites, among other issues.

The five sites were temporarily closed in March as a result and the proposal is now for a permanent closure in these areas:

Councillor David East says the city doesn't want to be seen as wanting to deter freedom campers.

"Indeed we do want them here, we want to protect our environment and we don't want the sort of issues we had last summer, so I think the move we are making here is a very good one."

The proposed ban will go out for public consultation before any change is made to the bylaw.

A full review of the Freedom Camping Bylaw has been brought forward to 2017, with council staff to report back on progress by May 2017.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel sees the measures as a short-term solution. She says there needs to be a nation-wide blanket approach to the issue.

"Personally I think it should be centrally based for the whole of the country so that there's one set of rules that kind of guides people on what they can and can't do in New Zealand."

"You can't tell a tourist coming in to New Zealand we've have one set of rules in this council, another set of rules in this council, one set of rules in the South Island and another set in the North Island...and by the way you can't tell the difference between them," she says.

Prime Minister John Key said on Wednesday it's a local government issue.

"We could of course have a national standard and we do have that for things like cell phone towers, but realistically we think it's something they need to work out themselves.

"They don't need the Government to say it's a national standard - they can do that themselves and if they collectively as a group say 'look there should be one standard for freedom camping' that's probably a very good idea but they don't need the Government to make them do it. If they want to do it they should just hold hands and do it," Mr Key said.

"But what the Government is doing is putting money into the infrastructure fund to allow councils to rely on government money to build the facilities they need."