Communities should 'make their own calls' on freedom campers - Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull

The Mayor of Dunedin is calling for local councils to have the power to decide whether they accommodate freedom campers in their area.

Overcrowding, litter and human waste are just some of the problems more than 30 Mayors will discuss with Minister of Tourism Kelvin Davis on Thursday.

Dave Cull told The AM Show large numbers of freedom campers are affecting locals.

"When numbers get high, certainly communities push back because their environment is being affected, but also their ability to enjoy their own public spaces is affected."

Mr Cull said it's not just visitors from overseas.

"In Otago for instance, a large number of freedom campers are actually seasonal workers."

Because the makeup of campers in each area is different, he said how they're dealt with should be specific to each area.

"What we need is a framework that allows local communities to make their own calls on how much they accommodate freedom campers and for how long they want to do that.

"What many smaller councils are saying is it's not our responsibility, and neither do we have the resources to put toilets at every beauty spot. We can't afford to.

"Hence, we're saying to Government, one of the things we need to talk about is how we fund this infrastructure.

"If it's needed - and I think local communities should be entitled to decide where it's needed - but if it's needed, it's visitors who pay for it. It shouldn't be local communities."

Mr Cull says "of course" we still want visitors coming to New Zealand .

"Tourism is our biggest export industry. But we do have to be careful. The big picture here is that if the number of visitors using our wide open spaces, our public spaces, in ways that ultimately alienate our local communities."

The number of campers has grown by 85,000 annually over the past decade

Newshub.