Responsible Freedom Camping Bylaw

This page contains information about the draft Responsible Freedom Camping Bylaw.

After trialing different ways of managing responsible camping Council began working with the Responsible Camping Working Group to create a Freedom Camping Bylaw for our district in February 2019. 

Submissions on the draft bylaw closed October 11, a summary of submissions will be made publicly available November 8. Hearings will be held November 14 and deliberations November 15.

Click here for the agenda, proposed changes to the bylaw, copies of submissions and a summary of the submissions 

The bylaw will be the key tool used by Council and the community to deal with cultural, environmental and health and safety concerns.As long as no legal challenges arise, the proposed bylaw should be in force by the end of 2019. 


What's in the bylaw?

The draft bylaw outlines controls around camping on all council owned or managed land. Under the Freedom camping Act 2011, bylaws cannot blanket-ban freedom camping, or control freedom camping on land not managed by council (including Crown or private land). Drivers are also permitted to rest or sleep at the roadside in a caravan or motor vehicle to avoid fatigue.

Under the draft bylaw, camping on council controlled or managed land;

  1. must be self-contained
  2. is prohibited in most residential and business areas, (except in designated  ‘restricted areas’ where self-contained vehicles are permitted for a maximum of one night in a four week period).
  3. is allowed in all unrestricted and non-prohibited areas for a maximum of two nights in any four week period. 

Prohibited areas include;

  • Within the entire Kaikoura Township
  • South Bay Corner with SH1
  • Kaikoura Lawn Cemetery
  • Point Kean
  • Esplanade Lawn
  • South Bay Parade
  • Moa St. Car parks at Boat Harbour
  • Wakatu Quay
  • Kiwa Road, Mangamaunu
  • South Bay Reserve (start of Peninsula walkway)
  • Coastal Strip from South Bay Parade until the Kowhai River

Restricted areas where self-contained vehicles are permitted for a maximum of one night in a four week period;

  • West End car park – Maximum of 5 vehicles;
  • Jimmy Armers Beach - Maximum of 6 vehicles, with a maximum length of 7.5 metres
  • Esplanade (Lion’s Pool) Maximum 5 vehicles Maximum vehicle length 7.5 metres
  • Kaikoura Lookout - Maximum of 3 vehicles
  • Scarborough St. Reserve - Maximum of 10 vehicles
  • Southend Railway Station Carpark - Maximum of 5 vehicles
  • Pohowera - maximum of 20 vehicles with NO FREEDOM CAMPING between 15 August and the last day in February of the following year.

The draft bylaw also allows Council to;

  • Issue fines of $200 each for any of the offence listed under section 12.
  •  This includes behaviours such as using public facilities to wash dishes, hanging out laundry or defecating in public.

 Overall, the draft bylaw:

  • has rules that are simple and regionally consistent
  • has rules only in places where they are required (in areas that are likely to be desirable to freedom campers)
  • ensures that all campers have access to a toilet (either on-board their vehicle or at a 24-hour public toilet)
  • provides for some controlled camping in places that are suitable
  • includes specific restrictions for some areas so the council can effectively manage camping.


For more information:  

Download the bylaw


Download the statement of proposal


Download the summary 

The path to the bylaw

Under the Freedom camping Act 2011 freedom camping must be allowed in Kaikōura. Freedom camping can only be restricted through the bylaw for one or more of the following reasons;

  • To protect the area;
  • To protect the health and safety of people who may visit the area; and
  • To protect access to the area.

To develop the bylaw Council and the working group assessed sites used by freedom campers including residential areas, recreation grounds and parks in the urban area, bush, coastal and farmland sites. The suitability of each site for freedom camping was checked against three criteria;

  • the natural environment, such as the flora and fauna, cultural or historical significance including wahi tapu and wahi tonga areas and mahinga kai areas
  • health and safety risks such as railway crossings, uneven ground and coastal cliffs which are prone to erosion, traffic, use for other activities (like sports grounds)
  • current vehicle access and the potential damage that could be cause (such as culverts or the impact on pedestrians)

Sites with the highest scores have received the highest protection and been designated as 'prohibited areas'  where no camping  is allowed.

Download the site assessment report 

How enforcement will work

Council has successfully secured over $250,000 from the government to support work around responsible freedom camping this summer. 

When the bylaw is introduced, this funding will allow council to:

  • employ, train and equip enforcement officer(s) for this summer 
  • install signs across the district in key areas to help educate campers and control behaviors 
  • make minor improvements to some of the designated responsible freedom camping sites to help control the environmental impact and behavior of campers 
  • cover the costs of any clean ups of human waste or dumped rubbish 
  • fund portaloos if/when required

Council is proposing a graduated enforcement approach. 

Council will investigate reports of someone camping in a way that they are not supposed to. In the first instance the council will educate and provide a warning to the camper. If the warning is ignored, we will consider whether escalated enforcement action is needed. We will use the best enforcement tool to help prevent non‐compliance in the future. This can include issuing a formal warning, issuing a $200 infringement fine, seizing any equipment used in the offence, seeking a court order or prosecuting the offender. The proposed approach allows an enforcement response based on the individual circumstances of the case including the seriousness of the harm and attitude to compliance.

Have your say

Click here for the agenda, copies of submissions and a summary of the submissions 

Key dates:

  • Notification/ beginning of consultation Wednesday September 11
  • Submissions close October 11
  • Summary of submissions made publicly available November 8
  • Hearings November 14 
  • Deliberations November 15
  • Decision/adoption of final bylaw November 27

Note: if the nature of the submissions results in the need to make substantial changes to the draft bylaw, it will have to be re-notified and the hearings and adoption of the bylaw will be rescheduled accordingly. Dates may also be amended at the discretion of the incoming council.