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Freedom camping on the East Cape

Bette Cosgrove and Miriam Richardson

Gisborne District Council have very clear freedom camping bylaws which demand waste management, #leavenotrace principles. ckw.nz/gisborne


They also ask you to apply for a free camping permit to use their many beautiful sites during summer. A good management strategy.


You must have at least one portable chemical toilet between a max of 8 people. This is required for tents as well as vehicles. Vehicles need to be ‘self-contained’ but there is no demand for vehicles to be ‘certified self contained (CSC)’.


They tell you where to find rubbish transfer stations and expect all campers to be responsible with their waste (or you can be fined).


These bylaws clearly follow the intent of the Freedom Camping Act and look to be the perfect example for other districts, to ensure we can safely use our public land and take care of the environment.


They also require 2.5m space between camp sites, for fire safety.


Sadly, in the carparks they havent considered fire safety, and have taken a ‘blue box on a map’ approach to limiting freedom camping.


The unsafe ‘blue-box-on-a-map’ approach to limiting freedom camping in a car park. (Shown: Bright St and Midway)


The alternative approach is a ‘marked parks’ approach (such as in Whakatane, pictured), which spreads the overnight parks out within the carpark, so that no two are too close together.

We can hope they will extend fire safety to overnight vehicles in carparks some time soon.


These bylaws clearly follow the intent of the Freedom Camping Act and look to be the perfect example for other districts

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