Thames Mayor says freedom campers are an 'unwanted burden'

The Mayor of one of the country's busiest tourist districts says freedom campers are taking over and are a burden to the region.  

Freedom campers have access to some of the country's most picturesque spots, in fact it's one of the main reasons they come. That and it's cheap. 

But they're arriving in such numbers they're now an unwanted burden according to Thames Mayor Sandra Goudie.

"There's no such thing as freedom camping because someone always has to pay." 

Ms Goudie says that ends up being ratepayers.

"They're paying for their water; they're paying for their waste disposal - which is not insubstantial," she says. 

The council has been inundated with complaints, and photos from locals saying they are taking over some of the best spots.  

Multiple campaigns have been set up to curb some of the worst behaviour, and help educate people where they can and can't camp. 

Some councils have set up specific sites to cater for freedom campers exclusively. 

But Ms Goudie says  "Give them an inch they'll take a mile, but not only that but there's no respect or regard for the country because they're not having,  they can just come in and do what they like." 

The number of freedom campers has more than doubled in the past few years, from 60,000 in 2015 to 110,000.

Just two years later numbers for 2018 aren't available yet, but it's estimated they spend more than half a billion dollars every year. 

But the Coromandel sees little of that money according to the Mayor.

All the council can do is overhaul its bylaws, which it will look at doing in March.