Last week, Auckland Council began a two month pilot “dispersal” programme in an effort to improve the conflicting needs of freedom campers and local residents.
The pilot programme could see freedom camping visitors encouraged to spread out over 29 locations across the city, rather than crowd into a few well-known hot spots.
The sites were selected following extensive consultation with local boards, resulting in seven of the 21 Auckland local boards participating.
Franklin local board is one of the seven boards involved, offering up seven sites. These include the Clevedon Showgrounds Reserve, Hamiltons Gap, Orere Point Beach Reserve, Rosa Birch Park Pukekohe, Te Toro Reserve, Kawakawa Bay and 10 King Street Waiuku.
“A key aim of the pilot programme is to try and reduce the impact of freedom campers on local access to parks, beaches and amenities,” says Councillor Linda Cooper, chair of the Council’s Regulatory Committee.
Throughout the trial, council officers will be ensuring the sites are kept well maintained and tidy, with clear accessways for the public to traverse and park.
“We want to be welcoming hosts to our visitors. However the influx of freedom campers into hotspot areas is creating problems. Overcrowding, parking and access difficulties, and increasing rubbish at popular destinations is frustrating local communities and other park users,” says Linda.
“If we can encourage campers into new areas, we hope to reduce overcrowding and spread the tourism dollar to other local board economies, while also introducing visitors to some of the lesser-known but lovely corners of our city."
The council proposes using a range of regulatory and non-regulatory approaches to try to move campers around Auckland.
“During the pilot we will be vigilant with compliance monitoring. We will retain the ability to deploy a quick response team to any areas not coping with demand, and we will modify the conditions of camping, or even shut down designated sites if they are causing a nuisance,” says Michael Sinclair, manager for Social Policy and Bylaws for Auckland Council.
A report on the pilot programme will be presented to the Council later in 2017 and will help inform the development of policies and regulations on freedom camping in Auckland.