Freedom Camping Bylaw

Submissions closed on September 05, 2021, 05:00 PM

Freedom camping at Moutoa Quay

Whanganui District Council has implemented a freedom camping bylaw. It limits the number of nights freedom campers can stay in several places, limit the number of vehicles that can be freedom camping at any one time in a given area, and restrict camping to certified self-contained vehicles where appropriate.

Freedom camping is a popular, low-cost way for visitors to see our district who might otherwise not have done so. Further, freedom camping has been increasingly accepted as a reality across New Zealand, with the Freedom Camping Act 2011 actively preventing local authorities from prohibiting it outright.

Whanganui District Council is proposing to put restrictions on freedom camping in certain areas of the district and prohibit freedom camping in others. Proposed restrictions and prohibitions for Springvale Park and Kowhai Park camping areas have been informed by complaints received from the community.  Most complaints were about how long visitors were staying in one place. 

Other restrictions/prohibitions are targeted at areas the council either wants to prevent camping, or wants to encourage camping but within responsible rules.  The rules are in place to protect the areas, access to them, or the health and safety of visitors.

While these restrictions won’t resolve all freedom camping complaints, it is expected that they will impact on most of them by preventing campers from staying in prominent places for extended periods and spreading out around their vehicles.

The council is also interested in hearing your suggestions for areas that should be restricted or prohibited and why. 

Freedom camping areas

View a larger version of this map

Frequently asked questions

So what does the proposed bylaw say?

The bylaw highlights several areas around the district and says that people who want to freedom camp can only stay in any one area for a certain number of nights each month. Normally that’s two nights, but in Queen’s Park the limit is one night. 

The bylaw also says that only a limited number of vehicles can be freedom camping at any time – for example, in the Jubilee Stadium carpark, only ten vehicles can camp here at a time. This is to keep the rest of the spaces open for people visiting Springvale Park – none of these limits apply to visitor parking, only to freedom camping.

The bylaw says that some areas can only be used by vehicles that are certified as self-contained. That means that only a vehicle that has a bathroom and has self-contained water storage can freedom camp there.

Further, in Blyth Street and Babbage Place, campers can only camp between 7pm and 10am. This is to stop them from impacting on the residential character of the neighbourhoods.

In addition, freedom campers cannot string up washing lines in any of the areas with rules in place – that’s any of the areas highlighted on the map.

Lastly, we’ve created “buffer zones”. These are the red- areas with dotted outlines in the maps, and freedom camping isn’t allowed in these zones. The idea with the buffer zones is to move campers away from the prohibited areas and towards the places that are restricted but where freedom camping is allowed.

Can you ban freedom camping?

No. As a result of section 12 of the Freedom Camping Act 2011, the Whanganui District Council cannot outright ban freedom camping within the district, and that includes banning freedom camping and then making exceptions.

What do you want me to submit on?

Your submission should be on any matters of importance to you.

What we’re specifically asking for are your views on:

  • whether we should have a bylaw at all
  • the areas that we’ve identified to put rules in place
  • the rules we’re proposing
  • whether you like the idea of the buffer zones
  • whether there are any other areas that you’d like to see rules in place. If you’ve seen any specific problems in those areas, it would be helpful to let us know about them in your submission.

What will happen to people who break the rules?

The council will have enforcement officers in place, and anybody who breaks the rules could face a $200 fine. Under proposed changes to the Freedom Camping Act 2011 in the next 6 to 12 months, that fine could be raised to up to $1,000.

What happens if I notice any current issues with freedom campers?

Please contact the Council if you spot any issues in the district on 06 349 0001 or email yourcouncil@whanganui.govt.nz so we can record the issues and visit the sites if needed.

Options


Areas based on complaints


Kowhai Park

The area between the boat ramp and the Anzac Parade toilets.

1A - Proposed restrictions

Restrictions

Advantages

Disadvantages

Max stay of 2 nights per calendar month. 
Max 10 vehicles at any one time.

There would be enforceable limits on visitor numbers and length of stay.

Freedom campers may move to surrounding areas.

1B - Existing restrictions

Restrictions

Advantages

Disadvantages

No restrictions.

Freedom campers would continue to be able to use the site unrestricted.

Overcrowding and long stays would remain as issues.

Any area of Kowhai Park outside of the restricted area above.

2A - Proposed prohibition

Restrictions

Advantages

Disadvantages

Freedom camping prohibited.

Freedom campers would be limited to the restricted area, leaving the rest free for park visitors.

The concentration of freedom campers in the restricted area may increase.

2B - Existing prohibition

Restrictions

Advantages

Disadvantages

No prohibition.

Freedom campers would be able to use the entirety of Kowhai Park rather than be restricted to the provided area.

Freedom campers would be able to camp throughout the rest of Kowhai Park.


Springvale Park

The Jubilee Stadium carpark.

3A - Proposed restrictions

Restrictions

Advantages

Disadvantages

Max stay of 2 nights per calendar month.

Max 10 vehicles at any one time.

Certified self-contained vehicles only.

Freedom campers would be prevented from occupying parking spaces for extended periods.

Vehicle number limits would ensure parking spaces are still available for visitors.

The area would be less available for freedom campers.


3B - Existing restrictions

Restrictions

Advantages

Disadvantages

No restrictions.

Freedom campers would be able to stay indefinitely next to an area with a dump station.

Long stays would continue to be allowed in a well-used carpark.

Anywhere outside of the Jubilee Stadium carpark.

4A - Proposed prohibition

Restrictions

Advantages

Disadvantages

Freedom camping prohibited.

Campers will be kept off the grassed areas and other spaces around the Park.

None.

4B - Existing prohibition

Restrictions

Advantages

Disadvantages

No prohibition.

Campers can spread to the Park to avoid taking up parking spaces.

Freedom campers will be able to camp anywhere in the park provided they aren’t damaging grass or erecting structures.


Areas in which Council wants to encourage freedom camping under restrictions


Babbage Place

The carpark immediately to the left when entering from Great North Road.

5A - Proposed restrictions

Restrictions

Advantages

Disadvantages

Max stay of 2 nights per calendar month.

Max 4 vehicles at any one time.

Certified self-contained vehicles only.

Freedom camping prohibited outside the hours of 7pm to 10am.

Camping paraphernalia must be contained to the vehicle.

The visual presence of campers would be reduced, creating less impact on the surrounding area.

The area attached to state highway 3 being restricted may cause campers to move to nearby unrestricted areas.

5B - Existing restrictions

Restrictions

Advantages

Disadvantages

No restrictions.

This would remain an open site for campers coming in on state highway 3.

It is within sight of a playground and within a residential area, so visual amenity is a priority.


Bason Botanic Gardens

6A - Proposed restrictions

Restrictions

Advantages

Disadvantages

Freedom camping prohibited.

Council would be able to enforce restrictions and keep freedom campers from camping in the Bason.

None.

6B - Existing prohibitions

Restrictions

Advantages

Disadvantages

No prohibition.

The Bason Reserve gates are locked at night, which restricts the ability to camp.

People who enter to camp before the gates are closed may be locked in, which creates a safety issue.


Blyth Street

The parking spaces at the centre of the cul-de-sac at the top of the hill.

7A - Proposed restrictions

Restrictions

Advantages

Disadvantages

Max stay of 2 nights per calendar month.

Max 4 vehicles at any one time.

Freedom camping prohibited outside the hours of 7pm to 10am.

Camping paraphernalia must be contained to the vehicle.

Views and the residential environment will be protected.

Parking spots will be kept available for visitors.

None.


7B - Existing restrictions

Restrictions

Advantages

Disadvantages

None.

This would remain open to allow campers to enjoy the views of the city.

Views of the city and residential parking may be impacted.


Castlecliff Beach

 

Both upper and middle carparks.

8A - Proposed restrictions

Restrictions

Advantages

Disadvantages

Max stay of 2 nights per calendar month.

Max 10 vehicles at any one time.

Certified self-contained vehicles only.

Campers would still be able to use this area, but with the majority of carparks still available for casual visitors.

None.

8B - Existing restrictions

Restrictions

Advantages

Disadvantages

None.

Freedom campers will be able to access both carparks for beach access.

This is a popular site for both residents and visitors.


Central Business District

The area bordered by St Hill Street, Dublin Street, Wicksteed Street, Cameron Terrace, Bell Street, Market Place, and Taupo Quay.

9A - Proposed prohibition

Restrictions

Advantages

Disadvantages

Freedom camping prohibited.

The parks in and around the city centre would be kept available for resident use.

None.

9B - Existing prohibition

Restrictions

Advantages

Disadvantages

No prohibition.

Freedom campers would retain close access to city centre businesses.

The non-time-restricted parks around the city centre are heavily used by residents, business owners and employees.


Moutoa Quay

The carpark overlooking the river between 9 and 35 Taupo Quay.

10A - Proposed restrictions

Restrictions

Advantages

Disadvantages

Max stay of 2 nights per calendar month.

Max 5 vehicles at any one time.

No camping on Friday nights.

Freedom campers would be restricted from staying in place too long.

Campers would be prevented from camping here on Friday nights to allow the market to set up.

None.

10B - Existing restrictions

Restrictions

Advantages

Disadvantages

None.

This is a central area close to both the iSite and public toilets.

The Saturday market needs to start setting up on Friday nights, and this area is often part of events.


Mowhanau

The lookout over Kai Iwi Beach.

11A - Proposed restrictions

Restrictions

Advantages

Disadvantages

Max stay of 2 nights per calendar month.

Max 3 vehicles at any one time.

Certified self-contained vehicles only.

Campers would be restricted to the areas away from the houses and the beach.

None.

11B - Current restrictions

Restrictions

Advantages

Disadvantages

None.

None.

Currently the entire area is open to campers.


Pukenamu Drive

The carpark overlooking Bell Street.

12A - Proposed restrictions

Restrictions

Advantages

Disadvantages

Max stay of 1 night per calendar month.

Max 2 vehicles at any one time.

Certified self-contained vehicles only.

Camping paraphernalia must be contained to the vehicle.

No large vehicles.

Carparks would be kept available for visitors.

Long vehicles would be prohibited.

None.

12B - Existing restrictions

Restrictions

Advantages

Disadvantages

None.

None.

This is both a central area and a scenic park.

Pukenamu Drive is narrow and unsafe for larger freedom camping vehicles.


Whanganui River Road

The entire length of the Whanganui River Road.

13A - Proposed restrictions

Restrictions

Advantages

Disadvantages

Max stay of 2 nights per calendar month.

Certified self-contained vehicles only.

This would prevent freedom campers from being in one place long enough to collect waste.

None.

13B - Existing restrictions

Restrictions

Advantages

Disadvantages

None.

This is an open trail and a positive draw for visitors, including freedom campers.

The Awa is culturally and environmentally significant.

Water quality needs to be protect from improper waste disposal.


Taupo Quay

The open section at 83 Taupo Quay.

14A - Proposed restrictions

Restrictions

Advantages

Disadvantages

Max stay of 2 nights per calendar month.

Max 3 vehicles at any one time.

Certified self-contained vehicles only.

Restrictions would keep parks available for visitors.

None.

14B - Existing restrictions

Restrictions

Advantages

Disadvantages

None.

None.

The area is central.

There are plans to improve the area with adult exercise equipment in future.


Westmere Lake

The Westmere Lake carpark.

15A - Proposed restrictions

Restrictions

Advantages

Disadvantages

Max stay of 2 nights per calendar month.

Max 3 vehicles at any one time.

Certified self-contained vehicles only.

There would be enough space for visitors in addition to freedom campers.

None.

15B - Current restrictions

Restrictions

Advantages

Disadvantages

None.

None.

The area is of interest both to campers and to visitors.


Option 16 – Buffer Zones

Restriction

Advantages

Disadvantages

Buffer zones prohibit freedom camping within a certain distance of areas identified in the Bylaw.

Campers would be funnelled towards restricted areas and away from prohibited areas.

This would prohibit freedom camping in more areas of the district.


Option 17 – Other Areas

Let us know what other areas you would like to see restrictions in and why.