DOC bans freedom camping at Taupō sites

The Landing Reserve – one of three Lake Taupō sites where DOC has banned freedom camping. Image: DIA.govt.nz

The Department of Conservation has banned freedom camping at three Taupō sites blaming tourism growth and the rise in non-self-contained vehicles using them.

From tomorrow, the status of the three sites – Omori Stream car park near Kuratau, the Oruatua picnic site near Tauranga-Taupō and the Landing Reserve in the Taupō boat harbour – will change from restricted to ‘no camping’.

“The aim is to find the balance for managing both the environmental and recreational values of a site,” said DOC. “Since the Freedom Camping Act came into effect in 2011, tourism growth and particularly the rise in non-self-contained freedom campers has meant some sites initially open to campers have now had to be reconsidered due to the increase in pressure.”

DOC said none of the sites had the facilities to support both the high number of day visitors and the influx of campers. Omori, for example, was a popular walking track and fishing spot, and the limited space for vehicles meant access was often impeded.

The department said it had worked with council and the harbour master through the decision-making process to provide a consistent management approach to camping in the Taupō region.

“The Freedom Camping Act provides enforcement with effective, immediate tools to address inappropriate freedom camping, waste or damage to the site, with $200 infringement fines,” said DOC.

New signage would be in place at each site outlining the restrictions and DOC would increase monitoring over summer in anticipation of higher visitor numbers.

DOC said it was committed to increasing participation in outdoor recreation and this included camping.

“The department only wishes to control freedom camping where it is causing real problems or where the issues cannot be managed in another way.”

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