A national caravanning body boss says plans to clamp freedom campers are a double punishment for Kiwis.
Queenstown’s council announced last week patrollers will begin clamping the vehicles of people sleeping in designated areas.
That’ll mean a $200 release fee on top of the $200 infringement fine.
Bruce Lochore, of the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association, says he’s disappointed at the step.
“The problem is it’s actually punishing New Zealanders more than the overseas visitors creating the
“We think it’s inappropriate. They’re going down the wrong path and it’s also a bad look for NZ.”
Ratepayers are missing out on about $300,000 a year in revenue from freedom campers who leave the country before paying the fines.
But Kiwis will now be charged double.
The NZMCA successfully challenged amendments to Coromandel’s freedom camping bylaw.
Lochore says the organisation hasn’t considered a legal challenge as yet.
“But someone will challenge it.”
He hopes the government will step in and force rental car firms to charge customers’ credit cards for fines.
Council regulatory boss Lee Webster says they’ll rely on trespass laws to clamp vehicles.
“Our legal advice is that someone who freedom camps on land the council controls is in breach of our bylaw,” Webster says.
“As a result, they are also trespassing.
“Clamping is recognised under common law as a legitimate response to trespass.”
Top lawyer Nick Russell, of public law specialists Chen Palmer, says there are grounds to challenge clamping freedom campers.
Russell says: “One, you could challenge the validity of the bylaw itself.
“But even if it is valid, you can’t clamp my car, you can only fine me $200.
“That’s what the bylaw actually provides for … and they’re trying to use a provision under a different enactment for an improper purpose, which is to create an additional penalty under the freedom camping bylaw.”