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GDC to up monitoring of campers

Gisborne District Council will be more proactive in dealing with freedom and summer campers this summer, the environmental planning and regulations committee was told.

The committee heard there had been complaints about freedom camping, which is allowed at the Marina, Makorori carpark and Kaiti Beach.

The most common complaints were people using sinks and toilets to wash clothes and dishes, stringing washing lines between trees, bathing with soap in rivers and making sites look untidy.

There were several complaints about Makorori carpark — an area well used all year round by the surfing community and among those sites in high demand during the busy summer months.

Enforcement officers found it difficult to monitor such sites as it was hard to differentiate between people freedom camping and those who were surfing.

When council officers went to the site most of the vehicles were empty because people were out for an early morning surf.

When staff returned later the people spoken to claimed to be at the area solely to surf.

Details were taken of people at the site and checks were made to ensure they did not stay any longer than the permitted three-day period.

Inspections of summer camping have historically been done on an “as-required” basis, mostly when complaints are received.

For the 2018/19 holiday season four enforcement staff will be monitoring the summer campgrounds.

Staff will undertake high-visibility patrols in the camp sites up to Turihaua and Pouawa Beach. They will check permits and anyone without one will have to get one or move from the site.

Summer camps higher up the Coast will be monitored by community caretakers. This appeared to be a successful way to monitor these remote locations as there had not been many complaints about these campgrounds.

The committee heard that campers spoken to in previous years had expressed frustration about there being no visible council presence at the campgrounds.

Enforcement staff will target the campgrounds at least twice a week to do high-visible patrols. Other inspections will occur when the council receives complaints.

Amber Dunn asked what was being done differently this year to ensure there was public access at the Makorori carpark.

Committee chairwoman Pat Seymour said since the area was sealed and parking spaces marked out, the problem had been mitigated.

Environmental services and planning manager Nick Zaman said there would be patrols in the area, which was still very popular. It was something that would have to be watched because the area would get very busy.

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