Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Freedom Campers

New laws proposed to control freedom camping are welcome but how will they be enforced away from the big towns?

By my own estimate Okarito hosts over 30,000 visitors a year. Their welfare and enjoyment are important to us as they provide a living for several small businesses. The community itself operates a small DOC campground and all funds generated fund community work like providing toilets and potable water for visitors. They also fund projects like restoring Donovan's Store, the oldest wooden building on the West Coast.

Over 99% of visitors treat our environment with respect, use the toilets provided and we hope enjoy their stay. As always, it is the ferals that cause all the aggro. They are often SKIMS, "single kiwi males", in old vans who hide in the carparks late in the evening.

Asking someone to move on is not a pleasant experience neither for the local nor the offending visitor. Who wants an argument with strangers just before bed - a poor nights sleep is almost guaranteed. But how else will the new law be enforced? Our local policeman is 30km and Council is 120km north at Hokitika. Perhaps I'm missing some innovative proposal in the legislation that will solve our problems

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