This bylaw controls freedom camping in certain areas owned or managed by the Council, in order to protect these areas, including protecting access to the areas and the health and safety of people using them.

12 September 2018 update

Public submissions on proposed changes to the 2015 Freedom Camping Bylaw to tighten restrictions in Akaroa will be heard by a Christchurch City Council Hearings Panel.

The panel, which comprises Deputy Mayor Andrew Turner, Councillor David East and Community Board Member Tim Lindley, will consider 79 written submissions.

Eleven submitters will address the panel in Akaroa on Monday.

The proposed bylaw changes would prohibit freedom camping in the whole township, but continue to allow limited freedom camping for self-contained vehicles in a designated area in Rue Brittan.

The submissions are generally supportive of the proposed changes.

In all, 54 submitters generally supported the proposal, with some wanting additional prohibited areas, some wanting more opportunities for freedom campers, and some supporting the proposal with conditions or suggestions.

Read more on Newsline.(external link) The full report summarising the submissions can be viewed here(external link).


Proposed changes to the Freedom Camping Bylaw 2015

The Council proposes to amend the Freedom Camping Bylaw in the following ways:

Addition to clause 7 of the bylaw

Add new subclause (c) to clause 7(1), and a new explanatory note.  New wording underlined, to read:

Clause 7. Freedom camping in certified self-contained vehicles

    1. In any area marked orange on any map in the Schedule, freedom camping is allowed subject to the following restrictions:
      1. The freedom camping must only take place in a certified self-contained vehicle; and
      2. The maximum period of stay in any location within an orange area is 2 nights within a 30-day period; and
      3. If there are marked parking spaces in the area, only one vehicle may park overnight per marked parking space.

Explanatory note: Clause 7(1)(c) is to prevent overcrowding in freedom camping areas, including ‘double-bunking’ (where more than one vehicle occupies a parking space intended for one vehicle).

Deletions to the Freedom Camping Bylaw Schedule (including maps)

Amendment action Description in current bylaw 
Delete red table entry titled: Map 10 red areas Akaroa Main Business Area and Boat Ramp – All Council-owned and/or -managed land. Beach Road from Bruce Terrace to Rue Benoit; Rue Lavaud from Rue Benoit to Woodills Road; Woodills Road from Rue Lavaud to Rue Jolie north; Rue Jolie South from Bruce Terrace to Beach Road; Rue Jolie North from the waterfront to Rue Brittan; Rue Balguerie from Rue Lavaud to Dalys Wharf; Bruce Terrace – from Beach Road to Rue Jolie South; Aubrey Street – all; Church Street – all; Rue Croix – all; Akaroa boat park area from Rue Brittan along the foreshore to Woodills Road up to Rue Lavaud and includes Children’s Bay foreshore. Note: Excluding the areas designated for self-contained vehicles.
Delete orange table entry: Maps 10 and 11 orange area Akaroa – residential zone – All Council-owned and/or -managed land comprising the urban area within the Akaroa residential and urban area, including the boat ramp, excluding the prohibited areas.
Delete map 10.3

Freedom camping restrictions: Jubilee Park Akaroa

(This map shows the freedom camping area on Rue Brittan, surrounded by a mixture of prohibited and restricted areas) 
Delete map 11.3

Freedom camping restrictions: Akaroa

(This map shows the two prohibited areas in Akaroa (the commercial and partial waterfront area, and Takapūneke) and the residential zone and remaining part of the waterfront area, where self-contained vehicles can currently stay for a maximum of 2 nights in any 30-day period)

Additions to the Freedom Camping Bylaw Schedule (including maps)

Amendment action Proposed amended title / description in the bylaw
Add replacement red table entry titled: Map 10 red area Akaroa township - All Council-owned and/or managed land in Akaroa township is prohibited to freedom camping (other than the freedom camping area for self-contained vehicles on Rue Brittan) – including: the whole of the waterfront (from Children’s Bay to Red House Bay (including the whole of Beach Road)); Takapūneke Reserve (from and including Beach Road to Onuku Road); the residential part of Lighthouse Road (to Flea Bay / Pohatu Marine Reserve); Grehan Valley Road and Aylmers Valley Road (including the parking area for Misty Peaks Reserve); Rue Balguerie; Old Coach Road up to and including the turnaround area by Long Bay Road / State Highway 75; and part of Morgan’s Road (as shown on the map).
Add replacement orange table entry titled: Maps 10 & 11 orange area Akaroa freedom camping area for self-contained vehicles on Rue Brittan - The Akaroa freedom camping area is located on Rue Brittan, between the forks of Grehan Stream, and near the boat storage compound.  Only one vehicle is allowed per marked parking space.  Certified self-contained vehicles only.
Add replacement map – Map 10.3

Map 10.3 - Akaroa township prohibited area

(Map to show the Akaroa prohibited area)
Add replacement map – Map 11.3

Map 11.3 – Akaroa freedom camping area for self-contained vehicles

(Map to show the designated area, surrounded by the Akaroa township prohibited area)


Four maps follow:

  1. Proposed new Akaroa prohibited area (wide view) [PDF, 1.8 MB]
  2. Proposed new Akaroa prohibited area (medium view) [PDF, 1.8 MB]
  3. Current Akaroa restricted and prohibited areas (medium view) [PDF, 6.5 MB] - for comparison
  4. Close-up showing Rue Brittan freedom camping area. [PDF, 1.3 MB]

Current bylaw

Freedom Camping Bylaw 2015 with maps and descriptions [PDF, 12 MB]

Pursuant to the powers vested in it by the Freedom Camping Act 2011, the Christchurch City Council makes this Bylaw.

The following note is explanatory and is not part of the Bylaw: This Bylaw incorporates amendments approved by the Council on 2 November 2016, which came into force on 1 December 2016. The amendments include a ban on non-self-contained freedom camping in all local-authority areas throughout the district, and five new areas where there is a ban on all freedom camping: Lower Styx River car park, Windsport Park car park, Addington Reserve car park, French Farm foreshore and Wainui foreshore.

Compliance with this Bylaw does not remove the need to comply with all applicable Acts, regulations, bylaws, and rules of law. This includes complying with any parking or other traffic restrictions in any area, not littering, not lighting fires in breach of any fire ban, not making excessive noise, no camping in parks and reserves, and complying with the directions of enforcement officers.

1. Short title

This Bylaw may be cited as the Christchurch City Council Freedom Camping Bylaw 2015.

2. Commencement

This Bylaw comes into force on 1 December 2016.

3. Purpose

The purpose of this Bylaw is to control freedom camping in the district in order to:

a. protect local authority areas;

b. protect the health and safety of people who may visit local authority areas;

c. protect access to local authority areas.

4. Interpretation

In this Bylaw, unless the context otherwise requires:

Act means the Freedom Camping Act 2011.

Certified self-contained vehicle means a vehicle designed and built for the purpose of camping which has the capability of meeting the ablutionary and sanitary needs of occupants of that vehicle for a minimum of three days without requiring any external services or discharging any waste and complies with New Zealand Standard 5465:2001, as evidenced by the display of a current self-containment warrant issued under New Zealand Standard Self Containment of Motor Caravans and Caravans, NZS 5465:2001.

Council means the Christchurch City Council

District means the district of the Council.

The following terms have the same definitions as in the Act:

Freedom camp:
(1) In this Act, freedom camp means to camp (other than at a camping ground) within 200m of a motor vehicle accessible area or the mean low-water springs line of any sea or harbour, or on or within 200m of a formed road or a Great Walks Track, using 1 or more of the following:

  1. a tent or other temporary structure:
  2. a caravan:
  3. a car, campervan, housetruck, or other motor vehicle.

(2) In this Act, freedom camping does not include the following activities:

  1. temporary and short-term parking of a motor vehicle:
  2. recreational activities commonly known as day-trip excursions:
  3. resting or sleeping at the roadside in a caravan or motor vehicle to avoid driver fatigue.

(3) In subsection (1):
Camping ground means:

  1. a camping ground that is the subject of a current certificate of registration under the Camping-Grounds Regulations 1985; and
  2. any site at which a fee is payable for camping at the site

Great Walks Track means:

  1. a track specified in Schedule 1 (of the Act); and
  2. any other track specified by Order in Council made under section 44 (of the Act) as a Great Walks Track.

Local authority area:

In this Act, local authority area:

  1. means an area of land:
    1. that is within the district or region of a local authority; and
    2. that is controlled or managed by the local authority under any enactment; and
  2. includes any part of an area of land referred to in paragraph (a); but
  3. does not include an area of land referred to in paragraph (a) or (b) that is permanently covered by water.

Waste receptacle: means a receptacle or facility that is provided by the Council for the purposes of disposing of waste (for example, a rubbish bin, public toilet, or bulk waste disposal unit).

5. Local authority areas where freedom camping permitted

Freedom camping is permitted in any local-authority area within the district unless it is prohibited or restricted:

  1. by this Bylaw; or
  2. under any other enactment or bylaw.

6. Prohibited areas

  1. A person must not freedom camp in any local-authority area in the district in any tent, temporary structure, or in any vehicle that is not a certified self-contained vehicle.
  2. A person must not freedom camp in a certified self-contained vehicle in any area marked red on any map in the Schedule.

7. Freedom camping in certified self contained vehicles

  1. In any area marked orange on any map in the Schedule, freedom camping is allowed subject to the following restrictions: 
    1. The freedom camping must only take place in a certified self-contained vehicle; and 
    2. The maximum period of stay in any location within an orange area is 2 nights within a 30-day period. 
  2. In clause 7(1)(b) location means the land within 500m of the place where the certified self-contained vehicle is situated for the purpose of freedom camping.

8. [Clause 8 of the Bylaw was revoked by an amendment to the Bylaw that came into force on 1 December 2016.]

9. Prior permission from Council

  1. The Chief Executive of the Council may waive or modify the freedom camping restrictions in clauses 6 and 7 of this Bylaw. Permission may be granted by the Chief Executive with or without conditions. 
  2. Application for permission must be made:
    1. in writing;
    2. provide sufficient detail about the proposed camping including information about how the applicant will manage all human and other waste generated while freedom camping; and
    3. be made at least 20 working days in advance of the date planned for freedom camping in the area where the prohibition or restrictions apply.

10. Council may temporarily close an area to freedom camping

  1. The Chief Executive of the Council may temporarily close or restrict freedom camping in any area or part of any area where the closure or restriction is considered necessary to:
    1. prevent damage to the local authority area or facilities in the area; or
    2. allow maintenance to the local authority area or facilities; or
    3. protect the safety of persons or property; or
    4. provide for better public access, including in circumstances where events are planned for that area.
  2. Notice will be given of any temporary closure or restriction, and the removal of any closure or restriction, in any manner the Chief Executive considers is appropriate to the reason for the closure or restriction. Prior notice of any temporary closure or restriction will be given where possible.

The following note is explanatory and is not part of the Bylaw: Notice given by the Council may include any of the following: a sign erected in the area; and/or advertising on the Council's website or on the radio; and/or a public notice in the paper.

11. Effects of this Bylaw on other Bylaws and Enactments

  1. [Sub-clause 1 was revoked by an amendment to the Bylaw that came into force on 1 December 2016.]
  2. Providing for restricted freedom camping in clause 7 of this Bylaw also provides for the parking of any vehicle being used for freedom camping in any area identified in clause 7, but does not affect any time, vehicle class or other restrictions that apply to the parking of that vehicle, made under any other bylaw or enactment.

The following note is explanatory and is not part of the Bylaw: This clause is to make it clear that approval of freedom camping under this Bylaw also satisfies any requirement for approval under another bylaw or enactment. For example:
The Council designates parking areas under the Traffic and Parking Bylaw and Council approval is needed to make changes; approving the same area for freedom camping under this bylaw also provides any Traffic and Parking Bylaw approval, if required (but the freedom camping must still comply with any parking time limits, etc. applicable to the area).

12. Christchurch City General Bylaw

The provisions of the Christchurch City General Bylaw 2008 (as amended from time to time) are implied into and form part of this Bylaw.

13. Offence and penalty

  1. As specified by section 20(1) of the Act, every person commits an offence who:
    1. freedom camps in a local authority area in breach of any prohibitions or restriction in this Bylaw that applies to the area; or
    2. makes preparations to freedom camp in a local authority area in breach of any prohibition or restriction in this Bylaw that applies to the area
  2. As specified by section 23(1) of the Act, every person who commits an offence set out in clause 12 (1) is liable to an infringement fee (fine) of $200.

The following note is explanatory and is not part of the Bylaw: Section 20 of the Act provides for the above offences and also for other offences, such as not properly disposing of waste into a waste receptacle, damaging or interfering with the flora and fauna in an area, and obstructing or threatening an enforcement officer. 

Section 22 of the Act sets out defences to a freedom camping offence, The defences include that an offence was committed due to an action or event beyond the control of the defendant that could not reasonably have been foreseen, or the act was necessary to protect life or health, prevent injury or serious damage to property. Council officers use their discretion when investigating freedom camping complaints, which will include consideration of any defences that may be available to a person.

The initial resolution to make this Bylaw was passed by the Christchurch City Council at a meeting of the Council on the 13th day of August 2015 and was confirmed, following consideration of submissions received during a special consultative procedure by a resolution at a subsequent meeting of the Council on the 26th day of November 2015.

Statement of proposal

This statement of proposal is prepared under section 11(5) of the Freedom Camping Act 2011, and sections 83 and 86 of the Local Government Act 2002. It contains:

  • a summary of information
  • background information
  • a description of the problem
  • legislative requirements, including reasons for the proposed bylaw amendments
  • a draft of the proposed bylaw amendments.

Background and reasons for the proposed amendment

Freedom camping is a popular way to travel and see the country and tourism of this kind is on the increase throughout New Zealand. While freedom camping can bring benefits to communities such as increased business, it can also have negative effects such as pressure on local infrastructure.  

Freedom camping is generally permitted in New Zealand, unless specifically restricted or prohibited by a bylaw.  Bylaw restrictions can only be put in place if it is necessary to protect the area, to protect health and safety of people who visit the area, or to protect access to the area.  This is set out in the Freedom Camping Act 2011(external link).

For small communities the environmental and economic costs can be significant, especially as freedom camper numbers and impacts increase, and services and infrastructure struggle to cope. Akaroa is a small seaside town, and has become a popular destination for freedom campers.

Previous seasons and bylaw coverage

In 2015 the Council brought in a new bylaw to help manage the impact of freedom camping across the district. This included putting in place some restrictions in Akaroa and the surrounding area.

At the end of the 2015/16 summer season, concerns were raised about some locations where the number of freedom campers had far exceeded expectations, and had strained infrastructure and services.  This led to the prohibition of all forms of freedom camping in Wainui and French Farm foreshore areas (across the harbour from Akaroa), in late 2016.

The experiences in these areas, and across the district as a whole, also led to the 2016 prohibition of freedom camping in non-self-contained vehicles (those with little or no on-board or built-in sanitary and ablutionary facilities) across the district. Since the 2016 amendment, the only form of freedom camping that is allowed in Council managed areas in the district is freedom camping in certified self-contained vehicles

The recent summer season in Akaroa (2017/18) saw further increases in the number of freedom campers, and calls from the community for further restrictions to help reduce the impacts from freedom campers.

Current bylaw restrictions

The Council's Freedom Camping Bylaw is available at link).  In Akaroa, it prohibits freedom camping in the main commercial areas and part of the waterfront, and allows freedom camping in self-contained vehicles for up to two nights in any 30 day period in other areas (including residential areas).  There is a freedom camping area for self-contained vehicles on Rue Brittan (near the entrance to Akaroa).

The surrounding areas on Banks Peninsula are a mixture of the three tiers of freedom camping regulation in the district – either allowed in self-contained vehicles with no duration restriction, allowed in self-contained vehicles with a two-night maximum in any 30-day period, or not allowed (prohibited)– providing ample opportunities for freedom camping in self-contained vehicles.

Proposed bylaw changes

The proposed amendment would prohibit freedom camping in the whole of Akaroa (except for one area).  The freedom camping area on Rue Brittan would continue under this proposal, enabling a limited number of certified self-contained vehicles to camp for up to two nights within a 30 day period.

A new clause would be added to the bylaw to limit overnight parking to one vehicle per marked parking space (if there are marked parking spaces).  This is intended to prevent overcrowding in the Rue Brittan freedom camping area, including ‘double-bunking’ (where more than one vehicle occupies a parking space intended for one vehicle).

Problem description

Available Census data for Akaroa shows the population as 624, and the Akaroa inner harbour population as 1,236 (scattered over more than 15 bays and small settlements).  The same Census data shows 567 unoccupied houses in Akaroa (many of which are holiday homes), and 325 occupied houses. 

As a small seaside town reliant on tourism, Akaroa receives an influx of visitors over the ‘summer’ season (October to April), largely from cruise ship passengers, holiday-makers, freedom campers, and day-trippers. These visitors all place demands on local infrastructure and services.

Residents in Akaroa have raised concerns about the number and impacts of freedom campers. A recent survey undertaken by the Council to understand the freedom camping impacts on the local community indicated widespread impacts, a high degree of dissatisfaction, and a need for change.

The cumulative impacts from freedom camping are causing friction in the small township, particularly when activities seem disrespectful or damaging to the environment (such as toileting in public places), and when camping activities encroach onto public places (especially in residential areas).

More than 280 mostly local people completed the survey. Key points include:

  • 83 per cent thought freedom camping comes with some negative impacts, while 67 percent thought it causes significant problems in Akaroa.
  • 80 per cent thought the infrastructure in Akaroa limits the amount of freedom camping that can be accommodated.
  • 77 per cent oppose freedom camping in self-contained vehicles in residential areas.
  • 65 per cent oppose freedom camping in self-contained vehicles alongside the waterfront (from the Lighthouse to near Green Point).
  • 65 per cent support the current freedom camping area for self-contained vehicles on Rue Brittan.

The survey indicated that many residents (81 per cent) believe the current ban on non-self-contained freedom camping is not working, and 63 per cent think there should be more restrictions on freedom camping. Experiences are widespread, with 82 per cent of Akaroa locals saying they came across overnight freedom campers daily over the recent summer tourism season.

Concerns raised by local residents through the survey included:

  • Freedom camper numbers: High numbers of freedom campers/visitors in camping vehicles, and their cumulative impacts on the environment, infrastructure and the community.
  • Undertaking camping activities in public places, including ablutions and laundry: Examples included hanging washing lines; draping laundry over picnic tables and fences; setting up tables and chairs in parking spaces; barbequing out of vehicles or on the steps of buildings; washing dishes in drinking fountains; getting dressed/undressed in public places; unpacking and spreading out camping gear; and undertaking ablutions in public places/residential areas (including in and around waterways). Comments referred to the overwhelming, frequent and dominating nature of these activities, from high numbers of campers.  Using public places to set up camp in residential areas or in view of homes is not considered acceptable to many locals. 
  • Toileting: Freedom campers undertaking their toileting in public places in and around Akaroa. Widespread reports from locals witnessing this behaviour, or coming across the evidence of this having taken place. This behaviour poses a health risk to the community and freedom campers, contaminates the environment, and is widely considered unacceptable.  There have been reports of the inappropriate dumping of toilet waste (including from chemical toilets). 
  • Fre