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As a person travels with a camper van throughout New Zealand one of the major concerns is: Are they welcome to freedom camp in the region they find themselves in?
Visiting Kaikoura an appointment was made to interview Mayor Kevin Heays in order to judge what the attitude is toward freedom loving vagabonds on wheels in this area.
Without any drama the interviewers were ushered into the Mayor’s office to be greeted with a hearty hand shake and a genuine natural smile. A very relaxed individual demonstrating the ability to keep on top of situations that may crop up in the area with ease and conviction and understanding.One could easily see meeting at the pub after working hours and sharing quality time together. Kevin has been in Kaikoura for over 23 years as a teacher, council member, pub owner and now Mayor. (Kevin’s personal website is at www.kevinheays.co.nz ) So without a moment’s hesitation the question went for the jugular.
“So Kevin is the Mayor and the Council camper van friendly? Are gypsies of the road welcome in Kaikoura? ” was asked.
Without a moment’s hesitation Kevin answered in the affirmative.
“Not only is Kaikoura pleased to have camping visitors here but the town has gone out of the way to make people welcome. There has just been months of aggressive discussion on what can be done to provide what is required when visiting the region relative to freedom camping,” Kevin responded.
Kevin went on to explain as follows:
Needless to say because of the impact of over one million tourists visiting Kaikoura each year they have had problems. Kevin was quick to add problems are not created by the self-contained units. It is the visitors in vehicles with no facilities and in conversation with other councils the problem is identical. Camping is not allowed if the vehicle is not self-contained. They have many fine Holiday Parks to go to in Kaikoura.
So, for the first time anywhere in the country the Kaikoura Council, working together with DoC, Transit and the local Iwi, all who have local land being used by the traveling tourist, have hammered out a policy agreeable to everyone involved. This is the first one in New Zealand that is an enforceable law and is looked at as a possible standard. Only time will tell but this first summer has indicated it is working.
You can access the Kaikoura Council website for more information: www.kaikoura.govt.nz .
Kaikoura has also increased the number of toilets in the area to take the pressure off of places most frequented by freedom camping. What they are saying is to those of you with self-contained units you are free to park overnight almost anywhere they have adequate parking except directly in town or near commercial holiday parks. Show them respect and they will reciprocate.
Kaikoura has created a very large Park area with toilets at South Beach where they have had as many as thirty camper vans (with prior permission) overnight as a group. The area is locked every night. The Trotter’s Club at South Beach also has made an agreement with the NZMCA and have set aside an area for club members only to utilise.
Besides the community and Council working toward a more positive relationship with visiting camper vanners they are head and shoulders above most communities in the world in their approach to the environment.
Kaikoura is quite unique in its forward thinking programs in relationship to the problems faced with environmental impact. Kaikoura is the first local authority in the world to achieve Green Globe certification, an international tourism standard created in 1992 by the United Nations Earth Summit.
(website- www.greenglobe.org) The Kaikoura region also has a zero waste community policy.
It behooves all out here in vans and buses to be a part of Kaikoura’s advanced thinking and positive responses and carry that thought and action as a person travels New Zealand . The traveler must set their own zero problem policy in order to protect the right to enjoy a natural New Zealand .
By the way if one gets a chance to meet Mayor Kevin Speays be sure to say hello. Kevin’s one of the good guys!