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Board gives recommendations on freedom camping

Published: 9 July 2018

Waiheke Local Board has recommended freedom camping be prohibited at 12 sites on the island.

Last year, Auckland Council’s Regulatory Committee decided to develop a bylaw under the Freedom Camping Act, which allows camping in any local authority area unless it is restricted or prohibited under a bylaw.

Staff carried out site assessments and concluded there was adequate evidence to schedule 12 Waiheke sites as prohibited.

They are: Kennedy Point wharf carpark, Palm Beach, Little Oneroa, Putiki, Wharf Rd Esplanade and Newton reserves, Onetangi Cemetery, Artworks, Surfdale Hall Reserve and Foreshore, Waiheke Island Sports Club, Blackpool Park and Onetangi Sports Park (Rangihoua).

The board has now recommended to the Regulatory Committee that freedom camping is prohibited at those 12 sites.

The board also confirmed more general feedback from a workshop in May, including the view that the island does not have the required facilities to accommodate freedom campers, especially given the demands a tourism surge is placing on infrastructure.

Board chair Cath Handley said the lack of a dump station increased the risk to the environment, and that there had already been instances of improper use of the island’s public composting toilets.

“Feedback during consultation on our local board plan was quite clear that freedom camping is not something people want to see on Waiheke. But we can only act within the law.

“Tourism is having a major impact on the island and is something many people are quite concerned about, and we are struggling to manage the impact of it.

“There is no doubt tourism brings benefits, but that does not mean throwing your doors open and letting people go anywhere and do anything.”

The next steps are for staff to report back to the Regulatory Committee with a draft bylaw. If accepted and approved by the Governing Body it will go out for public consultation later this year.