The fierce debate over how much free camping should be allowed near popular tourist towns is not one which is exclusive to Australia. Indeed, in countries such as our near neighbours, New Zealand, the battle over freedom camping as it is known there is, if anything, even more vitriolic than the one being played out on these shores.
Sadly, it seems that the poor behaviour of a minority in New Zeraland is playing into the hands of those who would like to see the right to free camping further restricted.
The latest salvo in the escalating war of words has been fired over a new freedom camping area which has just been opened by the Napier City Council. Emergency services were called to attend an illegal fire on a nearby beach, sparking more outrage for those opposed to the free camp. It seems that scores of freedom campers were in attendance at the beach, despite the fact that beach bonfires are now illegal across Hawke’s Bay.
“If freedom campers want to work with us then we will make them feel very welcome as they are travellers and we want them here,” said Napier mayor, Bill Dalton. “However, if they want to abuse our generosity we will come down on them like a ton of bricks.”
When the new area, complete with an amenities block and a safe drinking water supply, was set up last month the council assured objectors that it would be monitored to ensure the rules were being complied with.
However, Cafer Unac, who works at a bed and breakfast on Marine Parade, told the Hawkes Bay Today newspaper he was fed up with the behaviour of some freedom campers.
“It’s not the older ones who are respectful and contribute to the economy but the younger ones who just don’t care,” he said. “It’s not fair that they get this million dollar view for free while my guests have to look out the window and see their laundry.”
He said the campers commonly urinated on the beach, were loud, and left rubbish laying around.