Campers are being urged to head to a holiday park for the four-week lockdown as districts close or limit freedom camping sites.
Queenstown Lakes District Council wanted all those who are camping in the district to use commercial campsites, as the country prepared to move to alert level 4 to contain Covid-19.
Holiday parks, as well as hotels and motels, could remain open during the lockdown as they were considered an essential service.
Queenstown Holiday Park Creeksyde, Arrowtown Holiday Park, Wanaka Lakeview Holiday Park, Glendhu Bay Motor Camp and Qbox on Bowen Street would all be open during the lockdown. QLDC said all campers should consider the holiday parks as high hygiene protocols would be in place.
Separate zones had been created at these campsites for individuals who had been instructed to self-isolate, such as those arriving back into the country who choose a campervan option and for others who had to avoid family members.
QLDC said separate secure sites for those that had Covid-19 had also been created. Those cases would be managed through health providers, together with emergency management welfare.
If campers chose not to stay in a commercial campsite, they must respect all existing ‘Responsible Camping’ boundaries and have a dedicated bathroom and shower onboard, QLDC said.
In keeping with the Government’s alert level 4 activation, the council would not be enforcing its normal two-day maximum stay for freedom campers to enable them to stay in a single location.
Responsible Camping Ambassadors would continue to visit camping hotspots throughout the district and provide guidance on where to stay, available facilities and expectations for the level 4 alert.
The Department of Conservation has closed all pre-booked camping sites while several councils across the country have closed freedom camping areas in their districts.
Auckland Council closed all of its campgrounds as of Tuesday, 24 March, as did the Great Wellington Regional Council.
The Central Hawke’s Bay District Council closed all of its freedom camping sites until further notice, and is encouraging campers to use a commercial site.
Tasman District Council would close freedom camping sites at Waitapu Bridge and Taupata Point in Golden Bay, and Alexander Bluff Road in the Motueka Valley from midnight on Wednesday.
The Responsible Campers Association hit out at councils closing freedom camping areas and telling campers they needed to book into holiday parks.
“In light of the requirement for social distancing, packing people into holiday parks and closing the large areas available to freedom campers to socially distance themselves, is somewhat absurd,” it said.
“There are many people in RVs etc that have no home base, this includes homeless people sleeping in their cars,” RCA said.
“We need to be making available freedom camping areas for these people which allows for minimal contact with others. Therefore we call on all councils and the Department of Conservation to relax rules around maximum length of stays and to stop closing these areas.”
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