Govt open to help councils battle freedom campers

A freedom camper in Queenstown (Newshub.)
A freedom camper in Queenstown (Newshub.)

Prime Minister John Key says the Government should be doing more to help local councils -- in particular those in smaller communities -- deal with freedom campers.

It comes after a week of scrutiny regarding the mistreatment of property, and aggressive behaviour from freeloading tourists who are angering locals left to deal with the mess.

On Tuesday, Newshub visited a number of freedom campers on a private property in Queenstown -- one of whom attacked a cameraman.

Up to 30 vehicles had been parking on the vacant section every night, which is void of showers or toilets, leaving their faeces and other waste behind.

Mr Key today told the Nation programme today he believes it is time the Government stepped in and provided some financial aid to councils that need it.

"We do need to take a look at that, and whether there is more support that we need to provide those councils."

"In terms of freedom campers, you have just got some people that are fundamentally dumping waste product on the environment and that is very upsetting for everybody else. The councils would argue that they don’t have enough money."

In 2011, the Government introduced the Freedom Camping Act, which states that people can camp on land that is managed by councils or the Department of Conservation that doesn’t have a prohibition in place -- privately owned land is exempt.

It is to the discretion of the council as to which areas do not allow freedom camping, and fines can be issued to those that ignore it.

But Mr Key says the Government now plans to take back some responsibility and help out where needed.

"The question is whether we need to get in there and help them, and I think there is an argument that we do.

"We're talking about places like the west coast of the South Island, Queenstown -- where we get a big influx of tourists but a small place."