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Freedom Camping Working Group


Napier first introduced a Freedom Camping bylaw in December 2014.  Due to ongoing and evolving issues, the bylaw was reviewed in 2015 and again in 2016.

At the last review, Council identified that the issues surrounding freedom camping in Napier were complex, and proposed creating a working group to take a long-term strategic look at the provision of freedom camping in Napier.

It is recognised that an integrated, cross-sector approach is the best way to ensure that the activity of freedom camping meets the needs of both residents and visitors.

Working Group

The working group mandate was to examine the issues and options and assess these against the needs of all stakeholders and users.  In particular was a request that the working group consider the impact of freedom camping on Napier residents. The working group comprised 18 representatives of the following key stakeholders:

  • Napier City Council
  • Taradale Residents Association
  • Westshore Residents Association
  • Te Taiwhenua O Whanganui a Orotu Inc
  • Maungaharuru-Tangitū Trust
  • Hastings District Council
  • Department of Conservation
  • Hawke’s Bay Tourism
  • Napier i-SITE
  • NZTA
  • Police
  • NZ Motor Caravan Association
  • Backpacker Accommodation Rep
  • Holiday Parks Association of NZ


In order to examine the issues in detail, Council staff facilitated a programme of community engagement.  The purpose of the community engagement was to speak directly with those affected by freedom camping.

These were campground and backpacker owners, communities in close proximity to the current freedom camping sites and the freedom campers themselves.

Hawke’s Bay Tourism and Napier City Business Inc were identified as organisations with valuable perspectives.

The results of the community engagement were presented to the working group.


The working group has three recommendations; that NCC reduce the spaces available for non-self-contained freedom campers on the foreshore reserve to eight vehicles only, that no changes are made to NCC’s provision of sites for self-contained freedom campers, and that NCC make improvements to managing demand through better signage and marketing of local campgrounds.


Council adopted the working group recommendations at the Council meeting on Wednesday 27 September.  Changes to reduce the number of sites available for non-self-contained vehicles at the Foreshore Reserve will be come into effect on 1 November 2017.


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