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Funding focus . . . Additional signage at Caroline Bay is expected to benefit freedom campers using the area. PHOTO: GRETA YEOMAN

by Greta Yeoman

Camping in the right place, providing information about what counts as a self-contained vehicle and servicing freedom camping facilities are all set to be part of the role of South Canterbury responsible camping ambassadors this summer.

South Canterbury councils received more than $260,000 in funding from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) earlier this month, to promote “responsible camping” in the region’s districts.

Mackenzie District Council chief executive Suzette van Aswegen said the council was “grateful” for the $215,000 in monetary support from MBIE, as there was more than 7300sqkm of land to patrol over the summer.

“Exciting time” .. Mackenzie District Council chief executive officer Suzette van Aswegen

She said the camping ambassadors would be educating campers on where and how to camp responsibly, as well as enforcing and issuing fines for campers staying in the wrong place.

An education pamphlet was being developed, which would contain information about where to camp, what counts as a self-contained vehicle and other information relevant to those staying in the district.

Ms van Aswegen said the Mackenzie District Council had been collaborating with other councils to make sure there was consistency in the information and messages being provided to freedom campers.

“Campers may struggle to be informed of all the rules and regulations, especially when they change from district to district.”

However, the pamphlets and the responsible camping ambassadors would be able to help visitors fully understand their responsibilities, and encourage people into the correct sites, she said.

“We have several great free camp sites and we need people to utilise these, using these rather than camp in and around our towns.”

Opportunity . . . Timaru District Council parks and recreation manager Bill Steans. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

The council also encouraged visitors to make donations for using certain facilities, particularly to help pay for maintenance.

Timaru District Council park and recreation manager Bill Steans said the funding would help the council meet the goals of the Tiaki Promise, which is a national tourism campaign about responsible camping.

Entities involved with the Tiaki Promise include Local Government New Zealand, the Department of Conservation, Tourism Industry Aotearoa and New Zealand Maori Tourism.

Mr Steans said the Government grant of just over $40,000 for the Timaru District Council had been earmarked to help and encourage people to camp more responsibly and sustainably.

This would include the training of Tiaki ambassadors, who would visit campsites around the district to educate campers about responsible camping, as well as monitoring any issues at the sites and servicing toilet and rubbish/recycling facilities.

“Camping is one of the most Kiwi of pastimes, it’s an activity we treasure in the Timaru district and [something] we want visitors to experience.”

The funding would also go towards installing two information signs at Patiti Point and Caroline Bay camp sites, Mr Steans said.

Recipient . . . Waimate District Council chief executive Stuart Duncan. PHOTO: ALLIED PRESS FILES

“The funding offers us an opportunity to combine serving the campsites with the ambassadors’ role.”

Waimate District Council chief executive Stuart Duncan said freedom camping was permitted throughout the district.

The council would receive $12,800 to partially fund a compliance officer role as well as improve signage around the district.

While the council encouraged people to camp at particular sites in St Andrews, Hakataramea, Hook and Waihao Downs, there was not a freedom camping bylaw, Mr Duncan said.

“Therefore, enforcement is not an option, however, we don’t expect to have problems with freedom campers over the summer.”

Neighbouring Waitaki District Council is set to receive $170,000 to fund responsible camping ambassadors, information and signage about freedom camping, and servicing toilet facilities in Kaitaki Straight.