Local mayor backs Key's position on freedom campers

Tony Kokshoorn (supplied)
Tony Kokshoorn (supplied)

A West Coast mayor says pressure needs to be taken off rate payers to fund facilities for freedom campers in the area.

John Key announced on The Nation programme yesterday he will look into how the Government can increase financial aid for small councils that are dealing with an influx of messy freedom campers.

Greys District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn says regional council's around the country need help.

"I don't think it is fair for local governments to foot the bill here. I think that it is a collaboration with central Government. So I think the fact that they are talking about giving some money for freedom camping will go down very well."

The number of freedom campers across the country is estimated to have surged to 60,000 this year already.

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.

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.

Yesterday Mr Key told The Nation 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."