Camping campaign constructive

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Responsible Camping Ambassadors in the Queenstown Lakes district have been having a busy summer as up to 150 vehicles a day have used service hubs in Queenstown and Wanaka. They have distributed more than 15,000 educational leaflets and shown an educational video produced by Tourism New Zealand to more than 11,000 campers.

Responsible camping ambassador Neco Wieringa, of Wanaka, is helping travellers stay safe and avoid fines while freedom camping in the district.

He is one of the 16 ambassadors funded partly by the Queenstown Lakes District Council and partly by central government to spread the message of how to be a caring camper.
Responsible freedom camping was really about the basics ‘‘such as using the facilities, not dropping rubbish, not showering in the lake’’, he said.

Working on a roster from 8am to 10pm, Mr Wieringa provided people with information about where they could and could not camp ‘‘so they can avoid fines’’, he said.
‘‘A lot of people ask about the rules on camping in the area.
‘‘We often recommend campgrounds to people depending on what they are looking for.’’

The ambassadors’ encounters with tourists also presented opportunities to promote the region.
‘‘A lot of people ask us what there is to do in the area, so we might recommend hiking or shopping or different attractions.’’

There was a common misconception that people were permitted to camp on the waterfront at Lake Wanaka.
‘‘As you come into town there will be signs that say ‘no camping’ , so it is generally all the urban areas that you can’t camp in.’’
‘‘But some people just miss these signs while driving in so you will see them parked up on the waterfront not knowing they are breaking the rules.’’

Ambassadors would speak to errant campers and point them towards the campgrounds, Mr Wieringa said.
They also collected information from campers.
‘‘We have a long form survey which has about 60 questions.’’

The survey would provide information including the demographics of campers, which other districts they visited, and the facilities they had on their vehicles.
‘‘It just provides a bit more analysis for next year’s project.’’

This was the second year Mr Wieringa had been an ambassador during the summer.
He enjoyed the outdoors and was glad to be able toshare his love of the region with the visitors he met in his role.
‘‘Most people are really friendly, even when we are telling people they can’t camp in certain places.’’