In advance of the summer influx of visitors, Queenstown Lakes District Council has opened the gates of its free overnight campsite at the Red Bridge near Luggate and its service hub at Ballantyne Road.
The campsite has capacity for 20 certified self-contained campers for a maximum of two nights, while the service hub welcomes people in self-contained vehicles to use its facilities which include toilets, showers, rubbish disposal, a dump station and WIFI for a maximum of two hours.
The service hub is open from 8am to 8pm, and has had a steady stream of users since opening this month. The council has full-time camping ambassadors based at the hub, who also visit the campsite in Luggate and roam throughout the Upper Clutha educating campers on where and how to camp responsibly. The local team of four will be increased to six in December, with a further six camping ambassadors based in Queenstown.
The majority of visitors are learning about the new facilities from Campermate, a free app full of information for campers. Users of the free campsite have been mostly positive about the experience, and the new hub is also getting good reviews on the app, with one user commenting, “Just awesome! It's a really good initiative.”
While the free facilities may be getting the thumbs up from travellers one local holiday park owner was “horrified”, saying it was the job of holiday parks to provide those services.
Sarah Burdon, The Camp - Lake Hawea Holiday Park co-owner, suggested the wardens should instead “go to our sensitive areas like the Craigburn where people camping on the lake shore and are pooing everywhere even though there is a toilet located there”.
“The wardens should be checking people’s self-contained loo facilities and see if they actually use them. The problem is that people are buying self-contained vans with loos tucked under the boot and they not actually being used. It is a major problem that people feel it is okay defecate on our pure New Zealand environment.”
She accused council of failing to promote “one of the district’s best assets – the local campgrounds and holiday parks”, pointing out that there are five holiday parks in Wanaka, a campground at Albert Town, and The Camp at Lake Hawea, with capacity for about 554,000 bed nights in the local holiday parks alone.
Despite the variety of options for visitors to bed down for the night in both the public and private sector, some are still camping overnight in undesignated areas.
In Wanaka last week, the Queenstown Lakes District Council enforcement team issued 17 parking fines and clamped one vehicle.
On one night, they issued four parking infringements in Wanaka – three of these were around the lakefront areas (on Ardmore Street, McDougall Street and Dungarvon Street) and the fourth was on Eely Point Road.
A council spokesperson said vehicles, including campervans, found to be camping overnight in undesignated areas will receive a $200 infringement and can be wheel clamped (resulting in a further $200 fine).