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Responsible Camping Ambassadors welcome visitors to the Coromandel

18 December 2019

Our five new Responsible Camping Ambassadors are out and about across our district, helping freedom camping visitors find the right places to stay, along with providing information on where to find public toilets and rubbish disposal facilities.

Responsible Camping Ambassadors

(Photo: Ken Ward, far left, our Council's Bylaws and Compliance Team Leader, with the Responsible Camping Ambassadors. From left: Phil Andrews, Joke Streukens, John Freer, Liz Thomas, Nigel Airey.)

Over the summer period, our ambassadors will also be promoting the district, suggesting things to do and see, monitoring freedom camping sites and collecting data on how many visitors are using them.

Our ambassadors will be using the “Ambassador App” to record numbers of users at designated freedom camping sites and guide visitors to appropriate sites throughout the district.

Our ambassador based in our Coromandel-Colville Ward will promote a pack-in/pack-out approach to rubbish in the remote northern areas of the Coromandel, particularly around the Department of Conservation camping sites, which get super-busy. Other sites where ambassadors will be operating include the Thames Coast, around Mercury Bay and from Tairua south to Whangamata.

Our ambassadors have been hired to work part-time for 10 weeks to promote responsible freedom camping. They’ve been paid for with $71,532 out of the $721,774 our Council received from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) Responsible Camping Fund.

"Tourism plays a major role in our local economy, so we very much want to encourage visitors to the Coromandel and to enjoy the natural beauty," says Thames-Coromandel District Mayor Sandra Goudie.

"We expect visitors to leave our district the same way they find it, so others can continue to enjoy the iconic Kiwi experience," says Mayor Goudie. "Our Council is a huge promoter of the Tiaki Promise (see below), and our ambassadors will be sharing this message around the district.

"This funding provides valuable support for our peak visitor season, and these initiatives will help educate visitors to understand the desired travel etiquette in a way that benefits our tourism ecosystem," says Mayor Sandra.

“During the peak months, our public facilities are pushed to their limits and the additional services required can be an expensive burden for a low ratepayer-based region," says Mayor Goudie. "This money is operational and comes at no additional cost to ratepayers and it is only to cover the upcoming summer season. While it’s a great boost to receive this additional money, we don’t want to set up an unrealistic expectation that we are going to be able to do this every year."

Meet the ambassadors

Phil Andrews – Whitianga. Retired teacher. Phil’s motivation is to help care for all of New Zealand.

Joke (pronounced Yoka) Streukens – Thames. Ex-physiotherapist. Joke is a multilinguist who is keen to meet all the visitors to the Coromandel.

John Freer – Onemana. Ex-manager Thames Star. John wants to help provide positive reinforcement for the Coromandel.

Liz Thomas – Coromandel Town. Worked with vulnerable children. She’s motivated by the Tiaki Promise (see below) which encapsulates the values she holds dear.

Nigel Airey – Whangamata. Former forest harvesting manager. Nigel wants to help people enjoy our lovely district and treat it with respect.

The funding our Council received is paying for our ambassadors, education and information materials, increased service at 59 public toilets in visitor hotspots, and the skins we’ve put on our portable rubbish compactors that clearly show how they can be used. Compactor locations are on our website at

Our ambassadors will be in clearly marked vehicles that say “Responsible Camping Ambassador” and have our Council logo and the Tiaki Promise logo. They’ll be wearing shirts that say the same thing.

For more information on freedom camping on the Coromandel, click here.

We also produce a guide to camping on the Coromandel, which you can download here.

Take the Tiaki Promise

Tiaki Promise banner

The Tiaki Promise is a nationwide initiative our Council is participating in to help visitors to New Zealand care for our people, place and culture, for now and future generations.

You can find out more about the Tiaki Promise here.