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Freedom Camping

in Auckland
Piloting new approaches

For further information, please contact:


Daniel Pouwels
Policy Analyst, Social Policy and Bylaws
daniel.pouwels@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz
Mob: 027 222 6858

Freedom camping pilot

Table of Contents
1

What we know about freedom camping in Tmaki Makaurau ................................... 2

Pilot design ................................................................................................................ 4

Pilot information relevant to local boards ................................................................... 7

Freedom Camping Bylaw Review 2017


Every summer Auckland receives a large number of local, domestic and international
tourists who camp for free on Auckland Council land, in their vehicles, tents and in the
open air. This activity is referred to as freedom camping.
The council is currently reviewing the bylaws it inherited from the legacy councils on
freedom camping. These bylaws have been used by enforcement officers to respond to
nuisance and harm but this responsive approach has done little to address the problem.
This document provides details about a pilot project that staff are investigating to help
prevent over-crowding and increase responsible camping behaviours. The findings from
the pilot will be used to inform the review of freedom camping bylaws. Public engagement
on the review is scheduled for the second half of 2017.

What we know about freedom camping in Tmaki


Makaurau

The council manages freedom camping under seven legacy Local


Government Act 2002 bylaws. Although each of the bylaws has the ability to
allow freedom camping, only the former Rodney and Franklin Districts
actually used their bylaws to allow freedom camping in some form. This
approach has remained largely unchanged since amalgamation, with the
exception of sites established during the Rugby World Cup 2011.
Across Auckland, the council has the capacity to host approximately 130 freedom
campers, with about 80 of those, all in the former Rodney area being available to non-selfcontained campervans. Table 1 lists the current bylaws and the designated sites in the
former Rodney and Franklin districts.
Staff estimate that in a typical February, domestic and international freedom campers are
spending as much as $1.2M in Auckland, excluding vehicle hire costs and air travel. On
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Freedom camping pilot

this measure, the government estimates that freedom campers spend more and stay
longer than other tourists.
In 2015, Auckland consumer research undertaken through the Peoples Panel estimated
that:

1.1

about four per cent of the panel had freedom camped within the previous two years
less than half had observed freedom camping occurring in Auckland in the previous
two years, and less than half of those had associated, or could remember, any
problem associated with it
panellists supported the use of restrictions on length of stay, volumes at sites, vehicle
standards and day tripping impacts1
68 per cent of panellists were either supportive or neutral about allowing freedom
camping in Auckland.

Nature of the problem

Each summer, freedom campers are over-crowding designated sites and illegally camping
at other popular coastal and metropolitan destinations outside the designated areas.
Figure 1 illustrates where the councils freedom camping hot spots are as measured by
responsive and proactive compliance monitoring over two years.

Figure 1. Freedom camping hot spots


1

This pilot considers that restrictions on day tripping are part of the tourist agenda and should be supported under the
Auckland Visitor Plan. In cases where public and private transport is impacted, Auckland Transport may consider other
tools, such as parking restrictions. This has been flagged in relation to boat ramp infrastructure around Auckland.

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Freedom camping pilot

From analysis of complaints over two years:

Less than 20 per cent of the complaints received included information that indicated
any harm or nuisance. About a quarter of those related to over-crowding and overstaying. This over-crowding is reducing public amenity. Examples include: over-flowing
rubbish bins and reduced access to convenient car parking.

the remaining complaints included instances of inappropriate behaviours by some


campers that would be more effectively dealt with under other laws, e.g. unhygienic
behaviour, lighting fires without a permit or drinking alcohol in an alcohol ban area.

Freedom camping in New Zealand is marketed internationally and the number of freedom
campers has been increasing over the years. The pilot seeks to discover what mix of
regulatory and non-regulatory approaches works best to reduce the impacts of overcrowding on local communities and other visitors to popular destinations over summer.

1.2

Driver for change: The Freedom Camping Bylaw Review 2017

The councils current management approach is largely a reactive one. Resources are
deployed where over-crowding is reducing amenity and causing some nuisance to local
communities. This means addressing a risk once it has become an issue. This approach is
resource intensive and does little to address the problem as campers tend to be displaced
to other areas nearby, or leave Auckland altogether.
The council has scheduled a review of the legacy freedom camping bylaws to be
completed in 2017. This review will assess the performance of the bylaws to manage
problems associated with freedom camping. Staff have determined that more evidence is
required to make informed decisions about both increasing the economic benefits to local
economies and cost effectively managing harm.
A number of councils in New Zealand have adopted bylaws under the Freedom Camping
Act 2011. Auckland Council staff are engaged in a national project being coordinated by
the Department of Internal Affairs to review freedom camping regulations to improve
management approaches across New Zealand.
Public engagement on future regulatory policy in Auckland is expected in the second half
of 2017.

Pilot design

The purpose of this pilot is to apply a new approach to managing the issues
associated with freedom camping in Auckland. A new approach is justified as
the current approach is not addressing the problem, only shifting it from one
site to another.
The pilot will be run in a number of sites across a broader range of locations over summer
to:
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Freedom camping pilot

actively manage supply by doubling the capacity for freedom campers to sleep in
designated areas
actively manage demand, by switching from a reactive approach - to a preventative
one that proactively disperses campers before over-crowding occurs
establish a quick-response team to respond to harm

The dispersal of tourists from destinations close to Highway 1 to other areas has been a
focus of the council and its various regional tourism organisations for many years. The
novelty of the pilot will be a destination marketing campaign targeting campers through
social media. It is estimated that the council can achieve a 70 per cent rate of penetration
via specialist apps widely used in the freedom camping community.
The council will market businesses and events across Auckland and work with industry to
promote incentives to travel to areas beyond the north-east of Auckland, where modelling
predicts high numbers of campers to compete for parking spots, crowding out
Aucklanders.
Staff have developed a pilot that will test the councils ability to influence where freedom
campers stay overnight and where they choose to visit during the day. If the pilot is
successful:

there will be a reduction in over-crowding at popular sites on the north-east


non-compliance in urban areas will reduce.

Staff have undertaken survey work with members of the New Zealand Motor Caravan
Association on the assumptions and challenges identified in the early stages of the pilots
development. Table 2 outlines the areas that have been assessed for inclusion in the pilot.

2.1

A collaborative approach

In addition to a large number of council business units, the pilot will engage a number of
key partners in the pilot, including:

Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development


Auckland Transport
Rankers and Campermate (the two main social media app providers)
The New Zealand Motor Caravan Association.

Other stakeholders supporting the work include:

Watercare
The Salvation Army

We will also be engaging with relevant Mori organisations, particularly Mana Whenua,
who may be interested in partaking in the pilot project and future policy development
related to freedom camping.

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Freedom camping pilot

2.2

Risk management

To ensure that risks are managed and harm is effectively prevented, council departments
are working collaboratively with relevant Council Controlled Organisations, in particular
Auckland Transport and Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development. The
private sector is also engaged in the risk management approach by improving
communication links to the target audience and providing real-time geospatial monitoring
tools.
The pilot will apply an Auckland-wide view of the problem and be adaptive to local
conditions. This will mean ensuring that:

local infrastructure is adequately maintained and serviced in a timely way


campers and vulnerable communities are treated fairly and given adequate opportunity
to comply
compliance monitoring is being effective at managing harm quickly and effectively
health and safety at sites is effectively planned and managed
local economic development opportunities are identified and leveraged through the
destination marketing campaign.

The pilot will also promote commercial camping grounds and remote camping grounds on
regional parks that have spare capacity over summer.
New data about the cost to maintain infrastructure and effectively manage freedom
camping will be gathered and incorporated into a findings report, along with new evidence
about the economic benefits of freedom camping.

2.3

Research outputs

Staff will research the effectiveness of the bylaw and other approaches to:
a) influence camper decisions and reduce harm by preventing over-crowding
b) work within the Auckland Visitor Strategy to deliver local economic benefits to
Auckland and celebrate Aucklands Maori point of difference
c) improve the management of harms associated with freedom camping and improve the
social impacts of freedom camping
This research will form the evidence-base for future decisions about the bylaws being
reviewed. Findings from the pilot will also support a spatial review of Auckland for
management under a bylaw made under the Freedom Camping Act 2011, if this is a
recommendation of the review.

2.4

Budget

The pilot will be funded from within existing operational budgets. The research outputs will
be funded as part of the Freedom Camping Bylaw Review 2017.
Local boards will be invited to be involved in the design of the pilot, but the pilot will not
impact local development initiative budgets.
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Freedom camping pilot

Pilot information relevant to local boards

The following table outlines the status quo in terms of freedom camping capacity across local board areas and what is proposed to
change with the pilot.

3.1

Table 1: Sites currently designated for freedom camping in existing bylaws

Local board
Albert-Eden

DevonportTakapuna
Franklin

Applicable bylaws
Auckland City Council
Bylaws: Bylaw No.20 - Public
Places 2008
North Shore City Council
Bylaw 2000: Part 2 Public
Places
First Schedule of the Franklin
District Council Public Places
Bylaw 2007

Manukau City Consolidated


Bylaw 2008
Great Barrier

Auckland City Council


Bylaws: Bylaw No.20 - Public

Designated freedom camping areas

Estimated
capacity

Restrictions

Nil

Nil

Te Toro Reserve

10

Hamiltons Gap

Rosa Birch car park

10

St. Stephens car park, Tuakau

10

Western side of Waiuku, Service Centre car park

10

Nil

Nil

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Self-contained campervans only


Overnight stays permitted between
6pm at night and 10am the next day
A maximum two-night stay in any one
location
All rubbish and other materials to be
removed when vacating the designated
area
compliance with the relevant dog
access rules

Freedom camping pilot


Places 2008
Henderson-Massey
Hibiscus and Bays

Howick
Kaiptiki

Mngere-thuhu

Waitakere City Council Public


Places Bylaw 2010
Rodney District Council
General Bylaw: 1998 Chapter
8 Public Places
Manukau City Consolidated
Bylaw 2008
North Shore City Council
Bylaw 2000: Part 2 Public
Places
Auckland City Council
Bylaws: Bylaw No.20 - Public
Places 2008
Manukau City Consolidated
Bylaw 2008: Chapter 9

Manurewa
MaungakiekieTmaki
Orkei

tara-Papatoetoe

Papakura

Manukau City Consolidated


Bylaw 2008: Chapter 9
Auckland City Council
Bylaws: Bylaw No.20 - Public
Places 2008
Auckland City Council
Bylaws: Bylaw No.20 - Public
Places 2008
Manukau City Consolidated
Bylaw 2008: Chapter 9
Papakura District Council
Public Places Bylaw 2008

Nil
Gulf Harbour

10

Orewa Reserve

10

Hatfield Bay

10

Nil
Nil

Nil

Nil
Nil
Nil

Nil

Nil

Nil

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No restrictions

Freedom camping pilot


Puketpapa

Rodney

Upper Harbour

Waiheke

Waitkere Ranges
Waitemat

Whau

Auckland City Council


Bylaws: Bylaw No.20 - Public
Places 2008
Rodney District Council
General Bylaw: 1998 Chapter
8 Public Places

North Shore City Council


Bylaw 2000: Part 2 Public
Places
Auckland City Council
Bylaws: Bylaw No.20 - Public
Places 2008
Waitakere City Council Public
Places Bylaw 2010
Auckland City Council
Bylaws: Bylaw No.20 - Public
Places 2008
Auckland City Council
Bylaws: Bylaw No.20 - Public
Places 2008

Nil

Snells Beach

10

Highfield Garden Reserve

10

Whangateau Reserve

10

Port Albert Domain

10

Nil

Nil

Nil
Nil

Nil

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No restrictions

Freedom camping pilot

3.2

Table 2: Assessment of suitable sites for inclusion in the pilot, by local board area
Staff have undertaken a survey of New Zealand Motor Caravan Association members, to understand the risk of overcrowding at
proposed pilot sites and ways to influence behaviour. The following table summarises the results for each site based on a
popularity score from that survey and from available staff knowledge of the site and from feedback from the local community.

Local Board

Park

Toilets

Suggested
capacity

Dump
station
nearby

Risks

Albert-Eden

Gribblehurst Park

yes

no

history of crime, sports parks, competing car parks and


playground users

DevonportTakapuna

Windsor Park,
Devonport
Milford Reserve
(Beach)

yes

no

limited space and access

yes

no

Woodall Park
(Narrow Neck)

yes

Te Toro Reserve

Yes

Hamiltons Gap

Franklin

Popularity
ranking

Low

Assessment outcome

Potentially include

Medium

Do not include

events over summer (every summer there are weekend


triathlons)

High

Include in Pilot

no

conflict with regattas and public use

High

Include in Pilot

10

no

public engagement required to create/change designation

Medium

Include in Pilot

yes

no

public engagement required to create/change designation

Medium

Include in Pilot

Rosa Birch Park,


Pukekohe

yes

10

no

public engagement required to create/change designation

Low

Include in Pilot

Awhitu

yes

no

bylaw would need to be amended

Medium

Do not include

Karioitahi Beach

yes

10

no

limited waste facilities,


bylaw would need to be amended

Medium

Do not include

Lina Place Reserve,


Waiuku

No

10

no

bylaw would need to be amended

Low

Do not include

Manukau Heads

yes

no

close to camping ground, bylaw would need to be amended

Medium

Do not include

Matakawau Point
Reserve

yes

10

no

bylaw would need to be amended

Medium

Do not include

Freedom camping pilot


Waiuku Service
Centre

yes

12

Will be
installed

Omana Esplanade
Reserve

yes

Orere Point Beach


Reserve

yes

Whitford Point
Reserve
HendersonMassey
Hibiscus and
Bays

Howick

Kaipatiki

business association supportive, however bylaw would need to


be amended

Low

Do not include

no

high popularity with beach usage

High

Include in Pilot

16

no

gravel car park, difficult to mark, sensitive environment, limited


waste facilities

High

Include in Pilot

yes

no

toilet capacity, close to camping grounds

High

Include in Pilot

McLeod Park

No

14

yes

Saturday sports

Low

Include in Pilot

Gulf Harbour Park


and Ride Facility

yes

10

yes

history of popularity (Hammerheads)

High

Include in Pilot

Hatfield Bay

No

10

yes

popular with boaties

High

Include in Pilot

Orewa Domain
Orewa Recreation
Reserve

yes

no

surf club car parks often used by campers

High

Include in Pilot

Waiwera road
reserve (adjoining
highway)

No

12

Hatfields
nearby

busy highway popular with boaties

High

Potentially include

Browns Bay Beach

yes

no

no parking capacity currently

High

Do not include

Arundel Reserve

yes

no

close to camping ground and residential

High

Include in Pilot

Cooper-Lea
Reserve, Stanmore
Bay
Eastern Beach

yes

no

conflict with leisure centre customers

High

Include in Pilot

no

no

close to residential areas

Medium

Potentially include

Bucklands Beach

No

10

no

busy with ferry and marina traffic

Medium

Do not include

Birkenhead War
Memorial Park

No

no

busy sports fields and facilities. Alcohol ban in place

Low

Potentially include

No

busy sports fields and facilities.

Low

Potentially include

No

High popularity of bike park and sports parks

Shepherd's Park
Onepoto Domain

yes

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Medium

Include in Pilot

Freedom camping pilot


MaungakiekieTamaki

Papakura

Puketapapa

Rodney

Seaside Park

yes

10

No

sports parks, safety concerns

Point England
Esplanade Reserve

No

No

Treaty negotiations on nearby land. Known security issues,


alcohol ban in force

Medium

Do not include

Panmure Wharf
Reserve

yes

No

known security issues, alcohol ban in force

Medium

Include in Pilot

Hingaia Rd Bridge
look-out (part of
road reserve)
Margaret Griffen
Park

yes

No

sensitive environment, limited capacity

Low

Include in Pilot

yes

13

No

sports park and high demands on YMCA showers

Medium

Include in Pilot

Waikowhai Park

yes

no

toilets not open over night. No artificial lighting and isolated,


history of alcohol harm

Medium

Include in Pilot

Highfield Garden
Reserve, Algies Bay

yes

10

no

close to residential areas

Medium

Include in Pilot

Port Albert Domain

no

10

no

none

Low

Include in Pilot

Snells Beach
Reserve

yes

no

History of overcrowding

High

Include in Pilot

Whangateau
Reserve (over-spill
from camping
ground)
Te Arai Point

yes

no

close to camping ground (over-spill from camping ground)

Medium

Include in Pilot

yes

no

close to camping ground (over-spill from camping ground).

Medium

no

remote location makes access difficult

Medium

Existing, but proposed


to be removed
Potentially include

Lake Tomorata
Muriwai Beach
Port Albert Wharf
Kowhai Park
Domain

Low

Potentially include

yes
yes

9
6

no
no
yes

parking an issue on the road


popular boat ramp and competition for parking spaces
development occuring towards end of pilot programme

Medium
Low
Medium

Potentially include
Potentially include
Do not include

Centennial Park,
Wellsford

yes

10

yes

sports fields popular

Medium

Include in Pilot

Matheson Bay
Reserve

yes

10

no

cannot park on grass when its wet (controlled by gate)

High

Include in Pilot

Freedom camping pilot

Upper Harbour

Waiheke

Waitakere
Ranges

Waitemata

Riverglade Lane
Accessway and
Esplanade Reserve

yes

no

tidal flows limit usage of boat ramp

Medium

Include in Pilot

Shelly Beach
Recreation Reserve

yes

12

no

close to camping ground (over-spill from camping ground)

Medium

Include in Pilot

Murray Jones
Reserve

yes

no

history of alcohol harm

Low

Potentially include

Hooton Reserve

yes

10

no

AT introducing paid parking

Low

Include in Pilot

Man 'O War Bay

yes

no

remote location and proximity to vineyard make this an area


where host responsibility could be an issue

Low

Include in Pilot

Tawaipareira
Reserve

yes

no

skatepark nearby. Has a history of illegal camping by temporary


workforce

Medium

Include in Pilot

Glenesk Rd, Piha

no

no

Medium

Potentially include

Huia

yes

no

close to camping ground, future plans for coastal management,


toilet capacity a concern, not a sealed car park

Medium

Potentially include

North Piha (CSC)


North Piha
Piha South Road
Reserve

No
yes
yes

7
6
10

no
no
no

locked gates at night


surf club nearby
close to camping ground

High
High
High

Potentially include
Do not include
Include in Pilot

Te Henga (Bethells
Beach) Reserve

yes

10

no

sensitive community and busy car parks and car park not suitable
for marking

High

Include in Pilot

Herne Bay

No

no

no facilities, history of high popularity and noncompliance with


time limits

High

Potentially include

Judges Bay

no

no

leisure centre car parking competition a concern as are the


issues with youth drinking in the evenings in that area

High

Do not include

Point Erin

yes

10

no

history of high popularity and problems with non-compliance on


time limits

High

Do not include

The Auckland
Domain

yes

10

no

master plan seeking vehicles out

High

Do not include

Wynyard

No

no

no facilities, history of high popularity and non-compliance with


time limits

High

Do not include

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Freedom camping pilot

Whau

West End Road


(road reserve)

yes

no

proximity to residential areas

High

Include in Pilot

Ken Maunder Park

yes

no

sports parks, security concerns, low lighting, unattractive

High

Do not include

Olympic Park

yes

no

highly popular children's park

High

Include in Pilot

Find out more: phone 09 3010101


or visit aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/