The state of the Bendigo camping area at Lake Dunstan over the summer has been described as “diabolical”, with faeces and toilet paper strewn along the waterfront.
“It’s a health hazard,” Cromwell salvage operator Ross Hansen said.
“I am reluctant to send my guys out there to recover vehicles. They have to get down on the ground to do that.”
Mr Hansen said the state of the vehicles that people were living in was also a health hazard and many were unsanitary to work on.
“They [campers] need to be able to access showers at camping grounds for a small charge,” he said.
A Cromwell businessman, who asked not to be identified, said he had recently counted 104 non self-contained vans at Bendigo along with 13 tents and two people sleeping rough.
“I made a dreadful mistake and went for a walk along the foreshore … and on my feet … you can imagine, it was disgusting. It is just horrible.”
Although there were toilet facilities at the site they were hundreds of metres away from where people were camping, he said.
The problem existed elsewhere around Lake Dunstan but was worse at Bendigo, he said.
Central Otago District Council parks and recreation manager Mat Begg said there was significant use of facilities in the lakeside areas around Cromwell.
“Yes, there would appear to have been more campers in the area than in previous years. Primarily the campers have been camping in the areas designated for them.
“Central Otago District Council does not have a camping bylaw and therefore has issued zero infringements,” he said.
Southern District Health Board medical officer of health Dr Naomi Gough said human waste that was not properly treated posed a health risk to those who came into contact with it.
“Diseases like gastroenteritis, hepatitis A and typhoid can be spread through contact with untreated human waste.
“People who see human waste are advised to avoid contact with it and to alert their local council.”