New Plymouth Mayor wants to clamp down on freedom campers

New Plymouth Mayor Neil Holdom has called for tighter restrictions on freedom camping.
New Plymouth Mayor Neil Holdom has called for tighter restrictions on freedom camping. Photo credit: Getty

The New Plymouth District Mayor has called for stricter rules against freedom camping in a new report to be debated on Tuesday. 

Neil Holdom has recommended the temporary closure of the Waiwhakaiho River Mouth area to freedom camping, after receiving 42 complaints about the practice since December 1.

He also called for temporary restrictions on the number of car parks available to freedom campers at East End Beach, the Wind Wand and Kawaroa until April 30, when the full freedom camping bylaw will be reviewed. 

Mayor Holdom said more than 700 freedom campers visited New Plymouth in January, which wasted water and caused overcrowding, littering and "visual pollution".

"At the heart of this issue is making sure locals can still use these popular and pristine areas that make us a 'Lifestyle Capital'," he said.

"We welcome visitors to Taranaki, but at Waiwhakaiho, we have been overrun, our own people have been excluded from their favourite spots and we cannot wait until the end of summer to deal with the issue."

The New Plymouth District Council installed extra portaloos, rubbish collection and security to help alleviate the strain caused by overcrowding. 

Freedom campers were accused of using Queenstown "as a giant toilet", after faeces and toilet paper were found scattered around several reserves. 

The New Plymouth District Council is working with a popular app to provide alternative sites to freedom campers.

If Mayor Holdom's recommendations are endorsed by the council, the restrictions on freedom camping will take effect on Saturday, February 3.