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PAM.JONES

@alliedpress.co.nz

An average of almost 3000 vehicles visited Central Otago freedom camping sites every week during February this year, Land and Information New Zealand (Linz) figures show.

And visitor numbers remained high in March and April, as did the amount of rubbish collected from the sites, a report from Linz agent Colliers International to the Central Otago District Council’s community services committee last week said.

Colliers property manager Rose Quirk told councillors an average of 2966 vehicles visited the Bendigo, Lowburn, Champagne Gully and Jackson camping sites each week in February. Most of those – 1127 – visited Bendigo.

In March, an average of 2528 vehicles visited the combined sites, the highest number – 1034 – again visiting Bendigo.

April figures were not presented but they had remained high, Ms Quirk said.

During the same period, 7050kg of rubbish was taken away from the four sites in February, 5853kg in March and 4980kg in April, she said.

Of this rubbish, 50% came from the Lowburn site, 30% from Champagne Gully, 15% from Bendigo and 5% from other sites.

Deputy mayor Neil Gillespie said it was interesting to see most of the visitors had gone to Bendigo, but most of the rubbish had come from the self-contained vehicles at Lowburn.

Ms Quirk said the implementation of Cougar Security guards at the sites had been “a good thing” and campers’ behaviour had been good and the number of complaints about freedom camping lower than in other summers.

Meanwhile, council parks and recreation manager Gordon Bailey said last week the council was “thrilled” the Government was providing funding for more freedom camping initiatives this year.

“Central Otago benefited greatly from this funding last summer and was awarded $267,000 to help manage freedom camping.

“This funding went to a range of enforcement and educational initiatives, primarily focused on the popular camping areas around Lake Dunstan.

“These initiatives helped to successfully manage camping numbers and behaviour, resulting in a drastic reduction in complaints by residents. Council staff are working with Land Information New Zealand on the approach for the coming summer.”