No simple fix for free camp filth

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Getting rid of illegal freedom campers – and the mess they leave behind – won’t be an easy task, authorities agree. 

But what Queenstown Lakes District Council and its freedom camping enforcement contractor can’t see eye to eye over is how they can mitigate the problem. 

Queenstown harbourmaster Marty Black, who works for Southern Monitoring Services, says first-hand experience tells him that more ‘no camping’ signage is needed in the resort. 

“We say that signage does work because you can’t enforce it unless you’ve got the signage,” he says.
 
“Quite often people say to us, ‘Where’s the signage? There’s no signage that says you can’t’. And our response is, ‘Where’s the signage that says you can?’.” 

Black and his co-worker Dave Black patrol problem spots in the CBD and Frankton morning and night – they usually move on about 20 rental vans and cars illegally parked each time.
 
“One of the problems is we’re pushing them further out and they’re going to areas like the Morning Star near the Edith Cavell Bridge…and there’s no facilities in those areas too, and DoC or nobody’s patrolling there. It’s quite a wide problem,” Marty says. 

“We need to do more about educating the guys that hire these damn things.”
 
But QLDC parks boss Paul Wilson says having more signage won’t work – he reckons more people park in areas where signs are posted.
 
“We’ve got huge amounts of signage out there now…there’re probably more than 500 ‘no camping’ signs within the district.
 
“Each sign is a couple of hundred dollars, plus replacing them when they’re vandalised – it’s a lot of ratepayers’ money for something that’s completely ineffective,” Wilson says.
 
“I think we’re doing as much as any council, if not more, on that issue.”