Pressure on toilet facilities at Onewhero and Te Kauwhata Domains will be relieved following Waikato District Council’s successful funding application to address freedom camping issues.
As part of the Government’s $8.5 million responsible camping funding package, Council has received $91,680 which will primarily be used to replace the wastewater treatment and disposal system at Onewhero Domain.
The current system cannot cope with the amount of use as Onewhero Domain has become an increasingly popular stop-off point for freedom campers due to its proximity to Auckland Airport.
Hardware such as toilets, basins, taps and door locks at the facilities are also wearing down faster and are damaged more frequently, and there is an increase of litter and toilet blockages as more and more people use Onewhero Domain.
Other plans for the facilities at the domain include the installation of three additional rubbish bins, an outdoor sink, a shower/washroom, additional signage and replacement of damaged hardware.
Money will also be used to maintain the facilities at Te Kauwhata Domain which are under increasing pressure from freedom campers.
Staff patrols will also be introduced in the summer when the facilities at both sites will be more regularly inspected and staff members will educate freedom campers on appropriate behaviour at the sites.
Under Council’s Freedom Camping Bylaw 2016, self-contained vehicles and non-self-contained are permitted at both these sites with a maximum of three nights stay for self-contained and two nights for non-self-contained.
At Onewhero Domain the daily number of freedom camping vehicles averages between 12 in the winter and 20 in the summer months.
Te Kauwhata averages upwards of 35 in summer and 20 in winter.
The freedom camping vehicles often compete for parking space with recreational users of the reserves.
Waikato District Council Deputy General Manager Service Delivery, Roger MacCulloch said the funding is a welcome boost to Council’s efforts of balancing the needs of locals and visitors at both sites.
“While it’s important we welcome visitors to our district by providing appropriate facilities, the needs of our communities must be considered and the impact of freedom camping on our environment needs to be managed,” he said.
“Locals are becoming frustrated with the issues arising from freedom camping and the work we’re able to do as a result of this funding will address some of those issues.”
The work is scheduled to be completed by 1 December in time for the summer influx of visitors to New Zealand.
The Government's funding results from the Responsible Camping Working Group’s report that highlights the place of freedom camping in New Zealand, its contribution to the tourism industry and ways it could be better managed this summer and in the longer term through legislative changes.