Freedom Camping Changes

Council is looking for community input on plans to tackle the significant growth in the numbers of freedom campers across the district.

The increase in freedom camper volumes in the district this summer, and the behaviour of a minority of those campers, now risks degrading the unique experience on offer for both locals and holiday-makers, and damaging the wider New Zealand reputation as a holiday destination.

The surge in numbers are leading to over-crowding, risks to public health due to human waste, and potential damage to our environment with people bathing and washing dishes or clothes in the lakes and rivers at well-known reserves such as Lakes Hayes, Shotover Delta and the Wanaka Lakefront.

To help remedy this situation in the short term, overnight campers will soon be unable to stay at the Lake Hayes Reserve and in the Shotover Delta, while wheel clamping of vehicles camped overnight will begin on the Wanaka Lakefront.

At the same time we are looking to develop a dedicated fenced area with toilets and lighting for freedom campers near the Shotover Bridge. We’re also in discussion with Government agencies (DoC, LINZ, NZTA, MBIE) to look at funding and/or support for providing more roadside toilet facilities throughout the district, and to support other aspects of our review of the Bylaw and Reserves Management Plans.

We acknowledge that the majority of freedom campers do abide by the rules and treat our district with respect and behave responsibly. They are very welcome and contribute positively to our local economy.

It is unfortunate that the minority of freedom campers are ruining it for the rest of the responsible users of our reserves, however the issue has grown to a stage where immediate action was called for by the community, and Council has moved to act. 


Have your say

Work has begun to develop a district-wide Camping Strategy over the next 12 months. We want to hear people’s suggestions on how freedom camping in the district can be better managed.

This will inform the formal consultation process mid-year when we review the Freedom Camping Control Bylaw and relevant aspects of our Reserves Management Plans.

While we can’t simply ban freedom campers from our district (nor would we want to) we can work to better manage where they can camp and their effects on our district.

We’re keen to hear your thoughts on what you think might work as solutions to the problem, while still allowing for responsible campers to come and enjoy our district as they have done for many years.


Please use the below online form to leave your feedback.

Freedom Camping Survey

Feedback closes 5pm Friday 16 February


Related links:

Freedom Camping Brochure [1.94 MB]