Latest News & Public Notices

Freedom camping: Allow? Restrict? Prohibit?

29 July 2022

We’re reassessing what Council managed and owned areas around the Coromandel can support freedom camping, and we want your feedback on it.  

Freedom Camping consultation banner

Our Council welcomes responsible freedom campers who are here to explore all the wonderful things the Coromandel has to offer.

To make sure everyone gets a fair chance to enjoy the scenery and amenities such as car parking at popular locations, we need to make sure we have some practical rules in place.

That’s why we’d like you to have your say on the draft Freedom Camping bylaw. Our consultation runs from 29 July to 2 September.

Under the Freedom Camping Act, freedom camping is allowed anywhere on public land except where it has been either prohibited (not allowed at all) or restricted (allowed, but subject to restrictions).

The Department of Conservation has its own rules for freedom camping on the land it manages.

The district-wide rules around freedom camping in the Coromandel remain as they were under the 2014 bylaw: 

  • You must use a certified self-contained vehicle 
  • You may stay a maximum of two nights 
  • You must leave any site by 9am each day. 

Freedom camping can be prohibited or restricted in an area to protect the natural environment or the cultural and historical significance, to protect health and safety of the site’s users or to preserve access to the area for all users.

Most of these restricted and prohibited areas are the same as what we had in the 2014 Freedom Camping Bylaw, but there are few changes.

For example:

Coromandel-Colville Community Board area:

  • Colville Foreshore – this area wasn’t listed in the 2014 bylaw, but we’re proposing to prohibit freedom camping to protect the adjacent wāhi tapu area. There is also a health and safety risk from coastal erosion.
  • Little Sandy Bay Foreshore - this area wasn’t listed in the 2014 bylaw, but we’re proposing to prohibit freedom camping to protect the environment and preserve access.
  • We’re proposing that freedom camping be permitted in ‘Big’ Sandy Bay on the foreshore reserve in an area that would be signposted and could accommodate six vehicles, as shown (blue area) in this map:

Sandy Bay Restricted Area

Mercury Bay Community Board area:

We’re proposing to permit freedom camping in two new locations:

  • Coroglen Reserve – freedom camping is proposed to be allowed in a designated area- in the south corner of the park with space for three vehicles.
  • Ohinau Drive Trailer Park – at the north end of the reserve in a designated space for a maximum of three vehicles.
  • Moore Crescent, Ōpito Bay – This site is proposed to be a prohibited area under the bylaw to allow our Council to have better enforcement options that are more tailored to the issues caused by people who may freedom camp here.

Tairua-Pāuanui Community Board area:

  • Tangiteroria Lane (Boat Ramp Access), Pāuanui - This site is proposed to be a prohibited area under the bylaw to allow our Council to have better enforcement options that are more tailored to the issues caused by people who may freedom camp here.  
  • Te Karo Bay (Sailors Grave) – We’re proposing to prohibit freedom camping as it’s boggy and a kiwi habitat.       

Whangamatā Community Board area:

  • Esplanade Drive, Whangamatā - We’re proposing the prohibit freedom camping to protect the area and access to the busy beach area.
  • Williamson Park – This was not included in the previous bylaw. We’re proposing to restrict freedom camping to a designated area in the east end of the car park to a maximum of three vehicles.

Thames Community Board area:

  • Tararu Cultural Arts Centre – Freedom Camping was prohibited in the previous bylaw. We’re proposing to restrict freedom camping to the southeast end of the car park to a designated area for a maximum of four vehicles.
  • Mackay Street (bowling club) car park, Thames – This area was not included in the 2014 bylaw but we’re proposing freedom camping be restricted to a signposted area for a maximum of three vehicles. Campers would have to leave by 8am to allow for use of the car parks by commuters and bowling club patrons.

How can I find if freedom camping is allowed, restricted or prohibited in a certain site?

The draft bylaw has two schedules which cover our Council reserves, local roads and other open space we manage.

Schedule 1 shows locations where we’re proposing freedom camping be prohibited. Not all reserves where freedom camping is prohibited are listed in this schedule, because the Reserves Act prohibits freedom camping on reserves unless allowed under a local bylaw. But 25 of our reserves, that we assessed as unsuitable for freedom camping, are in the schedule. This allows our Council to have better enforcement options that are more tailored to the issues caused by people who may freedom camp on these reserves.

Schedule 2 shows locations where we’re proposing freedom camping be restricted – this means allowed but restricted to within a sign-posted site for a maximum number of vehicles. There may be further restrictions such as departing by 8am.

We also have maps for each community board area showing where we’re proposing that freedom camping be prohibited and restricted.

We’d like your feedback on both the draft bylaw and the schedules. 

Supporting information:

How to have your say:

  • Online at our website: tcdc.govt.nz/freedomcampingbylaw
  • Pick up a hard-copy submission form at one of our Customer Service desks and return it to us
  • Email your submission to us at consultation@tcdc.govt.nz
  • Post your submission to us at Thames-Coromandel District Council, Private Bag 1001, Thames 3540
  • Drop-off your submission to one of our Customer Service desks in Thames, Coromandel Town, Whitianga or Whangamatā
  • Make an oral presentation of your submission at a meeting of the Council’s governing body

Please include your full name and email address or postal address in your submission if you want:

  • Our Council to acknowledge receipt of your submission
  • To make an oral presentation – you will be contacted about when and where the meetings for this are taking place.