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Community Board to revisit freedom camping issues

February 22nd, 2017
[by David Armstrong]

The Community Board is to have another crack at a solution for Motueka's freedom camping problems, while also encouraging self-contained campers to the town.

At its February meeting yesterday, members agreed to build a plan to encourage and assist Tasman District Council to apply for "Motorhome Friendly Town" status for Motueka.

Board member Claire Hutt will also attend a Council workshop in April to thrash out the rapidly growing issues around freedom camping, especially those which are not self-contained and in the Beach Reserve and Port Motueka area.

Claire is using Facebook to ask residents to provide ideas about measures to tackle and reduce the issues.

She will also lead work to examine what needs to be done to enable Motueka to become a Motorhome Friendly Town in the eyes of the NZ Motor Caravan Association (NZMCA).

This association has many thousands of members around the country, many of whom spend significant time travelling and staying in places of interest. Their numbers are growing very rapidly.

The Motorhome Friendly scheme was introduced into New Zealand in 2010. It provides a set of amenities and services that guarantee motor caravanners a warm welcome and an enjoyable visit.

NZMCA says motor caravanners will only visit areas where they feel welcome and will go out of their way to visit a town that markets itself as Motor Home Friendly.

"With on-the-road motor home expenditures exceeding $650 million annually ($211 million of which come from NZMCA members), the message is clear - motorhomers and communities can certainly establish a mutually beneficial relationship," their website says.

In order to achieve this status, towns need to tick four boxes:

  1. A legally-compliant Freedom Camping bylaw (for the district or council of which the town is a part)
  2. A public dump station, Council owned
  3. Access to potable water at the Dump station site
  4. Refuse and recycling facilities
  5. Access to medical facilities
  6. A general shopping area for groceries
  7. A vehicle service centre

Motueka satisfies just three or four of these, so the Community Board will examine how to implement requirements that are missing. Obviously, the first one regarding a freedom camping bylaw needs addressing.

Board members agreed that these visitors are the kind which Motueka must attract and encourage, especially considering the money that most of them spend while visiting.

Comment by Liz Atree:
[Posted 25 February 2017]

The free camping ideas you are sorting is great. But please be aware! Some of the worst mess is left by day trippers ... baby nappies being dropped under campers and cars so left when they move on. And believe it or not, posh campervan travelers! Have several times seen men pee outside, something some people find ok but imagine if all we women had go! Also rubbish left on site after drinks etc. Yes, some...and only some because many are very clean and and sm van dwellers do need educating....we need to put this info in our overseas advertising not just welcome them into our lovely they would not be able to do in their country as they do here! That is if they can even free camp there! Food for thought.

Comment by Paul Mosley:
[Posted 26 February 2017]

It seems to me that Motueka scores pretty high on motor-home friendliness, except for poor public facilities - potable water is not available at the dump station, the dump station is inconveniently located (although next to a supermarket), and there is nowhere to dispose of accumulated rubbish (except for the overloaded rubbish bins at Beach Reserve). These wouldn't be hard for TDC to address.

It's a shame that the NZMCA proposal for an overnight camping site on Old Wharf Road seems to have got bogged down, because that would make a huge contribution to motor-home friendliness (at least as far as NZMCA members would be concerned - it wouldn't be available to non-members).

Motueka has numerous overnight camping areas within a few kilometres, both commercial and DoC/TDC administered, as well as those within the town boundaries, so there really shouldn't be any need for motor-home owners to be expecting "freedom camping" sites (for which, let's be honest, read "free camping").

I see the Community Board is impressed by how much money motor home owners supposedly spend. We always seem to hear about the supposed monetary benefits, but we never hear about the non-monetary costs (e.g. congestion, displacement of residents from favoured sites such as Beach Reserve, etc.), and nor is it pointed out that much of the money that is spent goes straight out of the district (e.g. to buy in the fuel and food that the visitors buy), so it isn't a net benefit at all.

By all means we should welcome motor-home owners, and make Motueka as convenient and pleasant as possible for them to visit, but I think residents do have a right to expect that they will provide a positive net benefit to the community, all things considered.

Comment by Rae Dozell:
[Posted 28 February 2017]

I have been a "Freedom Camper" for most of my life; from when we used to go for camping holidays as a child, and since then with various housetrucks and now a van kitted out with a toilet. The most important issue for me is to leave a place cleaner than we found it, often picking up broken glass and litter before setting up for the night.

We always travel with a toilet on board, and I am often frustrated that campervans are hired out without toilets and that many people will just poo on tracks, in carparks and even right beside facilities provided. We spend money in the towns we stay in, but often prefer a quieter spot than the larger motorcamps can offer.

I don't need or want wifi provided free of charge, I just want my right as a NZer respected to travel and enjoy the beautiful countryside that I was born into. There are many of us NZers who take care of the environment we stay in; we recycle and we have our toilet and washing facilities onboard, we care about where we stay and want to be able to return.

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