Lake Hawea residents build wall to keep out freedom campers

A small settlement in the South Island is so fed up with freedom campers, they've taken things into their own hands.

The rubbish and toileting mess left by tourists for years has so incensed the locals they've built a wall to keep them out.

Scenes of disarray litter the shorefront of Lake Hawea. Tourists drive in, sleep for free, leave toileting and other mess and depart. The locals are sick of it, and tired of the authorities' inaction to deal with it.

"We've been involved with tourism New Zealand, councils, some of the forums that they've had - there's been so many talk fests," says local farmer Richard Burdon. "We're all sick of talking about freedom camping."

Residents took matters into their own hands and built a wall of rocks and soil to stop the campers driving in.

"We've blocked it off, but they've already cleared the stones so they can still drive in," Mr Burdon says.

According to Mr Burdon, with nearly 4 million tourists coming into New Zealand, the problem is getting worse.

There is a toilet at the popular Craig Burn Reserve, but the campers choose not to use it. Locals say change needs to come from the Government.

"This is a serious problem in New Zealand," says Mr Burdon. "It's out of control and we need some legislative change to change it."

This freedom camping problem has been around for quite some time, so long in fact Newshub did a story at the same place as the wall six years ago, with reporter Leanne Malcolm visiting the scene to find defecating tourists.

Other tourists in the area on Saturday are shocked at the mess they've seen.

"New Zealand is heaven and I come walking down to the beach and I see toilet paper, all kinds of rubbish and stuff all over the place," says Hawaiian tourist Norris Katada.

"It's almost like they've given everyone a free pass to come and destroy this country, but the reason people come here is because it's so pure and pristine," says Australian tourist Chrissy Van der Jeugd.

"As a tourist visiting this beautiful country of New Zealand, I wouldn't want to take a walk and come across somebody who's just squatted and did their dirty business," says Hawaiian tourist Tricia Iseri.

Locals also have firm views.

"I think freedom camping should be banned - they don't respect our country," says resident Mike Botting.

They are asking how bad the problem will get before serious change is made.