Makorori possible option for freedom camping
Freedom camping at Makorori Beach could be back on the table if there is enough support. Other sites at Rere and Motu are also being looked at as Council reviews its Freedom Camping Bylaw. Gisborne District Council is looking for feedback on summer freedom camping sites. Staff will be at the A&P Show this weekend - look out for them in the Department of Conservation tent. People will be asked to put pins on a map to show where they think they should be able to freedom camp and where they shouldn’t be able to. A camera and whiteboard will be available so that people’s views on freedom camping can be recorded visually.
The Makorori foreshore was a popular spot for summer freedom camping until the late 1980s. Pohutukawa trees were planted to stabilise the sand dunes and provide shade in the summer. Freedom camping in the area was stopped to allow the trees to establish. This has now happened.
At community consultation meetings earlier in the year, support was shown to open up sites in Rere and Motu for freedom camping. With the popularity of the Rere Falls and Rockslide and the Motu Cycle Trail these areas are increasingly getting more visitors.
Council encourages freedom camping and it is a popular choice for summer holidays in the Gisborne district, says Council's regulatory services manager Sarwan Kumar. “It makes absolute beach front summer holidays accessible to all – locals, national and international tourists. Council has used a permit system to manage freedom camping. A small fee is charged for the permit which covers the cost of rubbish collection and effluent disposal. This system has generally worked well which is why we are considering extending the number of locations.”
Council will also be seeking feedback on another camping issue – overnight camping.
The 2011 Freedom Camping Act now allows overnight camping on any Council land. However, camping is not permitted on some parks and reserves because of management policies approved by Council.
International and domestic tourists travel through the district in motor homes or vans. This is a growing section of the tourism market that should be welcomed. However it is considered preferable that these campers are encouraged to stay in some areas and discouraged to stay in others. The act says that if Council bans overnight camping in some areas through its bylaw it must have a good reason to do so.
“We want feedback on what areas should be encouraged and if there are areas that people think overnight camping should be banned and why?”
“We are also interested in what conditions these campers should have to meet. For instance should only certified self-contained vehicles be able to camp overnight? How long should they be able to stay in one place - overnight or up to 3 nights?
For those who don’t make it to the show, the questionnaire is available on our website or request a copy at Customer Services. Consultation will run until the end of December and Council will collate all feedback and use it to draft a new Freedom Camping Bylaw. The full bylaw will be available for consultation in 2014.