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Source: Auckland Council

From today until 5 December, Auckland Council is seeking public feedback on a proposed new Te Ture ā-Rohe Noho Puni Wātea ā-Waka 2022 / Freedom Camping in Vehicles Bylaw 2022.

The proposed new Bylaw designates 45 areas where freedom camping will be prohibited and 22 areas where it will be restricted.

There are two key differences between this new proposal and the previous freedom camping bylaw proposal, which was released for public consultation in 2018/19:

  1. Reserve land has been excluded from the scope of the proposed new freedom camping bylaw. This means camping at Auckland’s reserves will continue to be managed under the Reserves Act 1977, which prohibits all camping on reserves unless specific approval is given.
  2. General rules would apply to all other council-controlled land, including roadsides, that is not already designated as a prohibited or restricted area in the bylaw.

Chair of the Freedom Camping Bylaw Panel, Councillor Linda Cooper, says Auckland is a popular destination for freedom camping.

“Although the borders have been closed to international leisure travellers, many New Zealanders took the opportunity to do some freedom camping over the 2020-21 peak season. As a result, popular sites in Auckland still saw plenty of freedom camping activity last summer, with most campers using self-contained vehicles.

“Although most people make the effort to camp responsibly, freedom camping still has impacts that cause community concern. In Auckland, these impacts are exacerbated by the region’s growth and intensification, which puts extra pressure on shared spaces like parks, beaches and community facilities.

“Like many other local authorities, Auckland Council wants to ensure freedom campers camp responsibly and have a great experience while visiting our region. This means staying in suitable places, keeping themselves and others safe, looking after the environment and respecting their host communities and other campers.”

The council is consulting on the designated prohibited areas and restricted areas, and on four general rules to help prevent and manage the regionwide impacts of freedom camping outside these areas. The proposed general rules would require all freedom campers staying in Auckland to:

  • use a certified self-contained vehicle;
  • stay a maximum of two nights in the same road/off-road parking area;
  • vacate their parking space by 9am on the day of departure;
  • not return to stay in the same road/off-road parking area within a two-week period.

The proposed Bylaw doesn’t prevent people from parking vehicles legally during the day, staying at camping grounds or resting/sleeping at the roadside to avoid driver fatigue. The council doesn’t intend to use freedom camping regulation to manage issues associated with homelessness and will take a compassionate approach to enforcement to protect vulnerable Aucklanders.

If adopted, the new Bylaw will be effective from 1 September 2022. The existing Bylaw will apply throughout Auckland until then and can be viewed on the council’s website.

For the full proposed Bylaw and more information on the consultation process, visit the Freedom Camping Have Your Say webpage.

Online consultation

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, all public consultation for the Freedom Camping in Vehicles Bylaw 2022 will be happening online.

Auckland Council GM Community and Social Policy, Kataraina Maki says a lot of people will be interested in providing feedback.

“We understand that the community may be disappointed that we cannot hold an in-person, Have Your Say event.

“The face-to-face communications we receive from these sessions are always valuable, and to help facilitate a similar experience we are providing bookable sessions where the public can choose to chat face-to-face online with members of our Bylaw Panel.

“This gives a meaningful opportunity for people to still provide feedback in person, and ensure they are seen and heard. If internet access is a problem, Aucklanders can also call us to make other arrangements.

“As well as seeking formal feedback on the key parts of the Bylaw proposal, we are also inviting Aucklanders to share their personal experiences with freedom camping in Auckland and to read other people’s. These experiences can be positive or negative, and from people who have been freedom camping themselves or interacted with freedom campers.

“This gives people the opportunity to just share one piece of feedback with the Panel if they would prefer to do that, and we welcome all feedback.”

For more information on bookable sessions, or to complete the survey or share an experience, visit the Freedom Camping Have Your Say webpage or phone us on 09 301 01 01.

Freedom Camping Act 2011

The proposed new Bylaw will be made under the Freedom Camping Act 2011. This Act of Parliament already allows freedom camping on all public land, unless it is banned in an area under other regulations, or there are good reasons to prohibit or restrict it through a freedom camping bylaw.

The Freedom Camping Act 2011 allows councils to identify areas where freedom camping should be prohibited, or where restrictions are needed to manage how and where freedom camping can occur.

In April 2021, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) released a national discussion document for public consultation on possible changes to the Freedom Camping Act 2011.

Auckland Council took the time to fully review the discussion document during the period of public consultation, before making a formal submission in May.

Any confirmed changes to the national freedom camping legislation will need to be reflected in our Bylaw. Council will look at what changes (if any) will be needed to our Bylaw proposal or to the adopted Bylaw, once MBIE has released further details.

MIL OSI