Council gears up for summer influx of freedom campers

Lake Hayes gate
Dec 11, 2017

Queenstown Lakes District Council is gearing up for another busy summer, with warm weather expected to bring record numbers of visitors to the region yet again.

Mayor Jim Boult said a number of activities are underway to help deal with the continued growth in visitor numbers. “We’re ramping up our freedom camping patrols and making some big changes to parking at Lake Hayes this summer.”

Improvements are underway at the northern end of Lake Hayes to strike a better balance between local lake users and visiting campers.

A new gate and fencing has been installed with signposts indicating where self-contained campers can stay overnight. This will stop campers spreading out across the reserve, allowing better access for local lakes users.

The gate will open at 5.30am each day so all beach users can park close to the main beach, and it will be locked at 10.00pm. Any vehicles left parked in the restricted area after the gate is shut will be issued a fine under the current rules for this reserve.

On top of these changes, QLDC will be keeping a close eye on freedom camping hot spots with patrols doubling this summer across the district.

Mayor Jim Boult says Council has geared up this summer to help manage an expected influx of freedom campers. “We’ve increased our morning and evening freedom camping patrols in both Queenstown and Wanaka and will be using a mix of education and enforcement to make sure people play by the rules.”

“We want fewer people who are disrespecting our landscapes, leaving waste and rubbish, and doing their very best to avoid paying a cent while they are here. Frankly, we don’t want them.”

“We do want visitors who appreciate and respect our area, who are here to support local businesses and spread the word when they get back home. Such guests account for the overwhelming majority of visitors to our region and we welcome with open arms.”

If anyone has concerns about camping, rubbish or anything else over summer the most effective ways of letting Council know are to call on 03 441 0499, via email at or online