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25/09/2019 12:00 a.m.
25 September 2019
Camping at Lake Dunstan sites will still be free this summer, but users may have to pay in the future.
Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) was exploring introducing a fee for camping at its four popular lakefront sites in the area, which last season had approximately 34,000 vehicles pass through.
Currently LINZ covers the cost of managing and maintaining the sites, with funding support from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) secured by the Central Otago District Council (CODC). This season the CODC received $377,000 to install vehicle counters, temporary toilet facilities to cope with increased demand, servicing and maintenance, and an education and monitoring programme.
LINZ Deputy Chief Executive Jerome Sheppard says LINZ has been in discussions with the CODC about charging to offset the significant cost associated with providing these services.
“LINZ works closely with the council to encourage responsible camping in the district. Given some concerns from the council about an overflow of campers to other areas, we’ve decided to continue with the same approach we took last year.
“We will again have people on the ground raising awareness about responsible camping, and monitoring, to ensure an enjoyable experience for campers and the community.”
Mr Sheppard says this approach worked really well last season, with only five complaints logged compared with approximately 250 the previous season.
However, he says charging is not off the cards altogether.
“We’re keen to continue exploring introducing a fee at our sites. We have really appreciated the support from the council and MBIE but this funding isn’t sustainable long-term.”
CODC chief adviser Dr Saskia Righarts says the council is currently developing a responsible camping strategy to be in place next summer
“We will thoroughly consider all options to ensure responsible camping is sustainable for the environment, community and campers,” says Dr Righarts.
“We’ve already started gathering information, including conducting an online survey to get a better idea of demand from seasonal workers, to help inform this strategy.
“We will also be consulting the public to get its input on the strategy and look forward to working with the community, LINZ and other stakeholders to help encourage responsible camping in the region.”