THE Southland District Council (SDC) has decided not to change its freedom camping rules already in place for Lumsden – and many locals are pleased with the decision.
Lumsden had become a popular spot for freedom campers travelling on a budget.
Lumsden resident Kerry Kennedy, who lives on Hero St, directly opposite the area designated for freedom campers to use, said she and her husband did not have a problem with freedom campers.
“I’ve lived here since 1983. It’s bringing life back to a town that was dying.”
Hero St resident and Lumsden freedom camping liaison officer Wallace Drummond, who also lived immediately opposite the freedom camping area, said he looked after the campsite on behalf of the SDC.
Out of about 25,000 freedom campers who had visited the area in the past 18 months, Mr Drummond said he had only had to tell one to move on because of antisocial behaviour.
The freedom campers not only spent money in the town, but also used Lumsden as a convenient hub for visiting other places in the region, he said.
However, not everyone in the town was happy with the freedom campers.
Lumsden Motel co-owner Brian Ross said freedom campers frequently breached bylaw rules.
The idea freedom campers were good for the town’s economy needed better scrutiny, he said.
“They’re staying here for free and going to Queenstown. There is some spending going on, but not here in the community.”
Freedom camping was also hurting the regular tourism industry, he said.
“Holiday parks go backwards because they can’t compete when you offer something for free.”
SDC group manager for environmental services Bruce Halligan said following consideration of a proposal to impose more restrictions on Lumsden freedom campers, the council had resolved to withdraw the proposal and continue with the status quo.
This allowed freedom camping to continue, but only in the designated area either side of the former Lumsden railway station, he said.
The council would take a stronger stance on any ongoing breaches of the bylaw provisions, he said.