West Coast campground says it won't survive against Govt-funded freedom camping

A West Coast campground says the council's move to accommodate freedom camping is killing their business. 

New free facilities for campers have been installed in tourist hotspots along the West Coast to deal with an influx in visitors, but not everyone's happy about it. 

Waitaha River camp is approved to accommodate 15 freedom campers a night, but since the installation of free toilets and bins, it's attracting more than double that number. 

"It's great to have so many public facilities for free and usually clean or okay," says freedom camper Kristine Kilian. 

"It's good that the council provides toilets and also the recycling bins - it's really positive." 

However there's an issue - 10 minutes down the road is the Pukekura campsite, where weeks ago it was full, but now they're struggling to get anyone to pay to stay. 

"I feel as though our council have effectively set up a campground in competition to us with our taxpayers' money and it's cutting us out," says Pukekura Lodge and Campground owner Royden Dick. 

Following complaints of freedom campers littering and defecating last year, the Westland District Council received Government funding and installed new facilities to cope with the high visitor numbers. 

"It's totally the answer, they're all in the same place, their rubbish is being collected, and I haven't had a complaint in three months about someone freedom camping up a bush road," says Westland District Council Mayor Bruce Smith. 

"In fact, if their business has dropped off because of the camps I would be horrified."

There are four commercial campsites along State highway 1 in the same situation. They didn't want to be identified, but they say they are worried for their livelihoods and future.

Mr Dick says he isn't sure if his campsite will make it through the winter. 

"I'm gravely concerned, yeah. I've got a property to maintain with three buildings, trying to get by in life, support my two young children and my council have just gone and done this to us."

The council will hear submissions on the toilet installations within the next six months. 


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