Questions and answers

What is the Freedom Camping 2011 Act

Freedom camping has become a big issue for local residents throughout New Zealand. The 2011 Freedom Camping Act is a complex law brought in prior to the 2011 Rugby World Cup to cater for large numbers of visiting fans and to address conflicting local freedom camping laws.

Broadly speaking, freedom camping is considered to be a permitted activity everywhere in a local authority (or DOC) area, except at those sites where it is specifically prohibited or restricted. This reverses the approach taken by some current by-laws which designate places where freedom camping is allowed, and generally prohibits it everywhere else. In order to legitimize infringement offenses under the new Act, bylaws will now need to designate the places where freedom camping is not allowed, or where it is restricted in some way (for example for a limited duration, or only in self contained vehicles).

Doesn’t Auckland already have bylaws on camping

Yes, each Council prior to Super City merger had their own bylaws, but they lack consistency and clarity in the enforcement of fines. The North Shore City bylaw states “North Shore City Council Bylaw 2000: Part 2 Public Places, You must not in any public place, sleep overnight or camp in an area of public land not set aside for that purpose unless permitted by us. Camping shall include the use of any vehicle, whether or not it is specially fitted out for sleeping or Use of any structure or vehicle as temporary living accommodation”.

Has Auckland Council looked at alternative options to using our parks and reserves

Auckland Council does not appear to have explored or shared alternative options to camping in public parks and reserves with the public.

What are some alternative options

Freedom Camping might be provided for by exploring the overnight use of: vacant landbanks (subject to a landowner rates rebate for freedom camping on suitable parcels of land), land specifically leased for camping activity, commercial campsites under a lease arrangement.

I’m the owner of a commercial campsite – why is Auckland Council damaging my business

If you think you will be adversely affected, you could take legal advice about unfair trading practices but Auckland Council is obliged to provide sites (legally the number of sites is unspecified by the Act) for freedom Camping under the terms of the Act. You could negotiate with Auckland Council to offer free camping for a limited number of days or sites.

Why have Auckland Council chosen Little Shoal Bay Reserve for Freedom Camping

Nobody can really understand why Auckland Council seems to be so at odds with the community, the Local Management Plan, The Kaipatiki Local Board, flood zoning and H & S law. That’s why it’s really important you tell Auckland Council that the proposal for Dudding Park and car-park is bad for Little Shoal Bay Reserve in almost every respect.

What about Kaipatiki Local Board, don’t they care what Council try to force on the local community

The Kaipatiki Local Board voted by majority to limit the original Auckland Council Freedom Camping proposals for Little Shoal Bay Reserve. A number of KLB members do not want to see any form of camping anywhere in Little Shoal Bay.

Council documentation maps show Dudding Field and car-park marked in blue, is that the area that floods

Ironically yes, the blue zone includes the greater part of Dudding Field and car-park prone to flooding but in fact the blue area is what Auckland Council have chosen as suitable for freedom camping for vehicles without toilets, water etc. The map is ambiguous and nobody has been able to get council confirmation of the intent of the blue shading over the whole field. The word on the street is that Council has marked the whole area in blue to be able to include camping on the field at a later date.

Little Shoal Bay is flooding during high tides, doesn’t that make it unsuitable for camping

The area is unsuitable on many grounds but Auckland Council for reasons best known by Council Officers have chosen to ignore flooding, sewage leaks, inadequate infrastructure, an electric transformer box that sizzles during floods, dangers to health, flora and fauna, dangers to children, noise and visual pollution to name a few.

OK, so the reserve floods but can’t Auckland Council stop the flooding

Dudding Field and car-park is sinking and flooding due to substandard infill when the natural foreshore was reclaimed. The natural estuary was replaced by a large Council installed pipe under Maritime Terrace (that floods on every tide) and a weir under the bridge at the western end of the field. Yes, flooding could be prevented by building up the seawall, the pipe and weir to levels that allow marine life to migrate at high tides but which inhibit tidal flows. Over the years there has been no appetite by council to invest in protecting Little Shoal Bay Reserve.

There used to be a campsite in LSB years ago, why can’t we bring it back

The campsite and motel were purchased with our rates to create a green open space for enjoyment by the local community. Freedom Camping in Little Shoal Bay Reserve is completely at odds with the intent and purpose of creating the reserve and protecting this resource by use of the Local Management Plan.

What are Iwi saying about freedom camping – wasn’t Little Shoal Bay an important place for Maori to gather shellfish

The foreshore was a place Maori used to gather shellfish and go fishing. The land under Seaview Avenue used to be an orchard and there was a Maori track from the foreshore up towards Wilding Avenue. It’s not clear how significant this is in terms of use of this land for Freedom Camping.

What other freedom camping sites on coastal reserves is Auckland Council proposing for the Shore

Little Shoal Bay Reserve is the only beach side reserve in inner Auckland that Auckland Council is proposing to designate restricted for non contained Freedom Camping.

Lots of people are already staying overnight in LSB in trucks, buses and cars, sometimes for weeks – why hasn’t Auckland Council dealt with the existing problem

Nobody can understand how a council can ignore its own bylaws for so many years and say that it will manage freedom camping effectively in the future.

How much is Freedom Camping going to cost Auckland ratepayers

To date (January 2019) the cost to Auckland Ratepayers is unknown as Auckland Council have been shy on revealing this information, but it will be significant. There is a modest budget of $70K identified for signage across the region but to effectively administer and enforce any new bylaw that emerges from this process is currently unbudgeted, unplanned and unknown.

Why should my rates be used to pay for tourists to live for free in my park

Auckland Council are obliged by the Act to enable Freedom Camping within Greater Auckland but the Act does not stipulate how much free camping. Auckland Council proposals are very generous towards designating Freedom Camping sites and that will only increase the demand and pressure to open more areas or, as they can do, increase the density of campers in the parks which they succeed in opening up to campers. This will be easily done with no need for public notification or input. If you object to the costs of implementing the Freedom Camping Act, write to your local MP to change the funding model from Local to National funding.

Can I drive my rental vehicle in salt water

It’s not recommended! All rental companies have clauses in their contracts that prohibit the use of rental vans and cars in water and definitely not in areas that are identified as tidal flood zones. You will be in breach of your contract if you park in Little Shoal Bay Reserve during or after flooding.

What happens to my vehicle if the tide comes in

If not rinsed off with fresh water, it will develop rust in time, particularly in the wheel arches. At night, flooding will be dangerous for you or any children.

What about toilets, can the existing infrastructure cope

On a busy day, there is insufficient infrastructure to cope with existing demand, let alone Freedom Campers. The nearest place for campers to relieve themselves is in the vicinity of a large Kauri in bush below Seaview Avenue. The local board have no budget to update toilet facilities in the Kaipatiki region and Auckland Council have no budget for freedom camping infrastructure either.

What about Kauri dieback

Auckland Council should be doing all it can to help protect Kauri from dieback. Freedom Camping in Little Shoal Bay Reserve will compromise Kaipatiki Local Board objectives to protect Kauri. Auckland Council must listen to it’s Local Board (who have delegated powers for all reserves and parks in the area) and who have advised Auckland Council that freedom camping will risk the spread of Kauri dieback.

What about local community parking

The local community is already impacted when trying to find a park. Large and small RVs, trucks, vans, anything on four wheels currently clog up existing parking spaces. Local access streets are narrow and already busy. Large heavy vehicles are prohibited from entering Little Shoal Bay under a legacy North Shore Bylaw which is ignored on a daily basis. Trucks, vans and cars looking for space will badly impact access to the reserve.

Will Freedom Camping be managed by Auckland Council

Auckland Council has not provided measurable assurance that Freedom Camping will be managed effectively and have not identified any budget to carry out wide areas of responsibility. Based on the evidence of a failure to manage existing freedom camper problems, there is little confidence that Auckland Council will be able to control the number of vehicles of all types (whether contained or non contained) trying to camp in Little Shoal Bay Reserve.

How many overnight campers can we expect

As Little Shoal Bay Reserve is the first proposed non contained Freedom Camping site north of the Harbour Bridge and close to the shore, it is highly likely that large numbers of vehicles will arrive intent on “setting up camp”. Online sites will point thousands of Auckland Airport arrivals to Little Shoal Bay Reserve so it’s fair to say “expect the worst”.

How long can vehicles stay

Auckland Council proposes that non self contained vehicles may stay up to 2 days over a four week consecutive period. Currently buses, cars and trucks are known to stay for weeks at a time.

So, vehicles will be parked in the reserve all day

Yes, under this proposal you can expect to see and hear a minimum of six vehicles parked 24/7 for 365 days of the year. Don’t forget that if Auckland Councillors vote to designate Little Shoal Bay Reserve as a restricted non contained freedom camping site, they can increase the density (numbers of vehicles) at any stage in the future without public notification.

People who oppose Freedom Camping are just NIMBYS

Internationally, the term NIMBY has come to have a positive meaning – people who are fighting to save something precious to the community. The North Shore City Council created Little Shoal Bay Reserve for the enjoyment of the local community and since amalgamation, the wider Auckland community. Freedom Camping is destroying communities around New Zealand. It is badly entrenched in Europe and with a planned increase in tourism promotions by ATEED (funded by Airbnb bed tax) it will get dramatically worse. If you don’t object to Freedom Camping in Little Shoal Bay you are a NUMBY!

numb : adjective; synonyms: deprived of sensation, without feeling, numbed, benumbed, dead, deadened, desensitized, insensible, insensate, senseless, unfeeling;

What can I do if I oppose Auckland Council proposals for camping in Little Shoal Bay

Go to the “Have your say” events, tell your friends, tell everyone you know that this is a bad proposal for Little Shoal Bay Reserve and then, make sure you and your friends provide feedback (or submission) to Auckland Council by 18th February 2019. Remember, you should identify why you object citing the three key points that Auckland Council must consider: to protect the area; to protect the health and safety of people who may visit the area and to protect access to the area.