There’s concern of a gradual takeover of the boat trailer park at Tauranga’s Sulphur Point by campers threatening residents and leaving rubbish lying around.
A nearby resident, who doesn’t want to be named for fear of retribution, says they’ve complained to the Tauranga City Council many times, but nothing has changed.
“I believe compliance patrols are no longer done,” says the resident.
“In the past there were patrols checking vehicles parked in campervan spaces are compliant or they are fined $200. That doesn’t happen anymore.
“There is council allocated six spaces for campervans that meet compliance requirements and they are only allowed to stay for three days.
“But these people are sleeping in their cars and vans and one’s in a house truck.
“They have been here for weeks, they basically live here. I believe they are freedom campers even though they don’t have a motorhome.
“Two of our residents have already been threatened after taking discreet photos or walking too close.
“I would have been torn to bits by a campers dog had it not run out of chain and done a somersault.
“You don’t feel safe anymore when they become belligerent try and take a swipe at you.”
“A lot of people come for a walk across the park every day so it’s not just about the residents in the area.”
The Tauranga City Council has confirmed they have received 18 complaints from two complainants about freedom campers at Sulphur Point/Marine Park over the past six months.
Meanwhile, Tauranga’s freedom camping rules are up for review.
Public feedback closes today.
The proposals include closing freedom camping at a number of sites including Sulphur Point, Macville Park and Omanu Surf Club car park.
The council says these areas have increased in popularity and to ensure public access they are no longer suitable for freedom camping.
Another proposed change is that Freedom camping vehicles must stay within the designated parking area, and not encroach on another designated parking area.
That’s to ensure freedom campers only take up one car park, so that everyone has fair access to the park or reserve.
The New Zealand Motor Caravan Association says the council’s proposals offers a few more freedom camping sites, however it will also severely restrict or prohibit camping at some of our favourite spots.
“It is our view that, in its present form, the draft bylaw will continue to unnecessarily restrict responsible campers travelling in genuine certified self-contained vehicles,” says the Association in a note to members.
“Overcrowding is an issue at popular freedom camping sites nationwide.
“We firmly believe one of the key ingredients to a successful bylaw in a destination city like Tauranga is to provide more opportunities and help spread the load.
“Many local members have expressed their concerns with the proposal and believe there is plenty of scope to develop a more permissive bylaw.”