A tough new Queenstown spot fine regime to combat loo-less campervans will kick in before an anticipated Rugby World Cup invasion.
Queenstown Lakes District Council passed a new get-tough policy prior to Christmas.
Under the new rules – which come into force from May 31 – only campervans with toilets can stay overnight in “remote areas”.
Volunteer community wardens and council staff will patrol freedom camping hot-spots such as Twelve Mile, Moke Lake and Lake Hayes – $100 fines will be dished out to loo-less campervanners parking where prohibited.
The new bylaw also bans all campervans – with or without toilets – from parking in suburban streets and town centre carparks such as Queenstown’s One Mile or the Queenstown Gardens carpark.
Queenstown’s council is one of 22 that have signed up to the freedom-camping bylaw. It’s not kicking in till May because it’s still being drafted by central Government’s Internal Affairs Department.
Queenstown harbourmaster Marty Black – who for years has patrolled the CBD and nearby streets to move on backpackers illegally sleeping overnight in their campervans – is a fan of spot fines.
“The ability to write tickets will fix the problem. It’s a step forward – good stuff.”
A $100 fine should be high enough, although if not, clamping campervans may be an option, Black says.
“It’s got to happen because with the World Cup, campervans are going to be a big issue this coming year,” Black says.
Minutes from a meeting between New Zealand Transport Agency officials and Queenstown delegates show the resort expects to be overrun with campervans during the World Cup in September and October.
The minutes, obtained by Mountain Scene under the Official Information Act, say: “Parking’s the main transport issue for Queenstown, especially for visitors in campervans.
“Existing commercial camper-van parking is not expected to meet the demand during the Rugby World Cup.
Overflow parking with appropriate facilities and shuttles needs to be identified.”
A quick check yesterday of several companies renting loo-less campervans show strong World Cup bookings.
Of Escape Rentals’ 200 campervans in New Zealand, about two-thirds are booked so far. It might add a further 40 vehicles and is hopeful all will be booked by September.
About half of Spaceships’ 280 campervans are already booked.
Freedom campers spoiling the countryside have been hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons for the past two years. In February 2009, then-Queenstown mayor Clive Geddes called for stiffer penalties, saying: “They believe as a visitor they can denigrate our countryside.”