From next month, freedom campers visiting Tauranga will face the prospect of being issued with an instant fine, if they breach the bylaw that seeks to control freedom camping in the area.
Tauranga City Council will soon begin issuing $200 infringement notices to freedom campers who are not in a certified self-contained vehicle, who park in a prohibited area or who stay at a permitted location for more than two nights in a calendar month. Other offences such as lighting fires or failing to remove all waste and litter can also result in a fine.
Mayor Greg Brownless says, “Tauranga is a popular holiday destination for both domestic and international travellers. We don’t want that to change, but we also expect our visitors to follow the rules and to help us minimise the impact on our natural environment.”
Tauranga has 38 permitted freedom camping locations. Until now, Council has taken an educational‑approach by actively engaging with the freedom camping community and providing information on freedom camping in Tauranga.
Stuart Goodman, Team Leader: Bylaws & Parking says, “The educational-approach is no longer proving as effective. The number of freedom campers in Tauranga has increased and so have the number of complaints. The majority of freedom campers respect the rules, but we are seeing an increase in non‑certified vehicles and campers exceeding the permitted number at certain locations. The bylaw allows a stricter approach to enforcement which will enable us to more effectively ensure the rules are adhered to.”
As outlined in the bylaw, specific locations across Tauranga have been set aside for freedom campers. At all permitted reserves, designated areas have been clearly marked, and new signage showing the designated areas and any restrictions has been installed.
“We will be carrying out daily proactive patrols. The designated areas will make enforcement easier – if a freedom camping vehicle is not in the correct area, or if they are in a non-self-contained vehicle, an infringement notice will be issued.
“We ask all freedom campers who are planning to visit Tauranga to please take the time and go to our website where all the rules around freedom camping are available. If you are travelling in a non‑self‑contained vehicle ensure you book into a campground to avoid receiving an infringement,” says Stuart.
Tauranga’s Freedom Camping Bylaw 2013 was made under the Freedom Camping Act 2011. The Act allows for a $200 infringement for any breach of a Council bylaw made under the Act.