Freedom camping  |  17 May 2021

Christchurch City Council is calling for public feedback on proposed changes to the Freedom Camping Bylaw.

“Today marks the beginning of a five-week consultation period in which we invite people to have their say on the bylaw changes that we are proposing,’’ says Council Head of Strategic Policy Emma Davis.

“The feedback we get from people will be important as it will influence the final form of the Freedom Camping Bylaw.’’

The Council’s bylaw has been in place for five years and legally has to be reviewed.  The bylaw has generally been working well, but Council staff are recommending a small number of changes.

Those changes include:

  • Making the temporary ban on freedom camping in the North Beach carpark permanent. The ban would apply at weekends from October to May.
  • Creating a City Coastal Restricted Zone – where freedom campers could stay for up to four nights in any 30-day period. This would replace the current rule, which allows campers to stay for two nights in a 30-day period, but not within 500 metres of where they have previously stayed. This new zone will prevent campers using the 500 metre rule to move short distances every few days to stay in the coastal area for extended periods of time.
  • Introducing a new rule to encourage campers to be more careful about how they set up their camping vehicles and any other camping gear. The rule would prevent campers from blocking thoroughfares and spreading out, particularly in busy car parks, where other users need access and where it could be a safety issue.
  • Creating a specified area at Naval Point in Lyttelton where freedom campers can stay, and limiting the number of freedom camping spots to 18 vehicles.

At the same time as the Council has been proposing local changes, the Government has been proposing national changes.  The Government proposals are likely to lead to changes to the Freedom Camping Act, but won’t be finalised for some time.

“This is a separate process to the Council’s bylaw review”, says Ms Davis, “It’s important that we continue the process to review our bylaw, or the bylaw will lapse, leaving us with no bylaw to manage freedom camping.  There’s strong public support for the bylaw, so we don’t want that to happen.” 

The Council’s bylaw process will be completed before changes to the Freedom Camping Act are finalised.

Find out more about the proposed changes to the Freedom Camping Bylaw and how to make a submission.