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Have a safe Whangamata summer and help us stamp out a new breed of 'freedom camper'

18 December 2017

Whangamata celebrates summer by hosting many visitors and events and to help make sure everyone has equal access to and enjoyment of all our beaches and reserves, we have a few summer tips to please keep in mind.

Kids learning to surf, Whangamata

Our "Coromandel Summer Tips" brochure can be viewed online or pick up a copy from our Whangamata Service Centre, 620 Port Rd.

The brochure provides a summary of some rules in place across the District - so we can all enjoy summertime on the Coromandel - as well as making sure that what we do does not have a harmful impact on others and on the landscape around us.

"As the Coromandel begins to fill with holiday makers the risks that accompany them grow. None more so than the risk of fire," says our Area Manager - South, Garry Towler who is also our Civil Defence Controller.

Civil Defence have joined Fire and Emergency NZ (FENZ) in expressing heightened nervousness at the potential high risk of casualties should a scrub fire break out in the Coromandel.
"Right now we have four communities in our District that could be severely affected" says Mr Towler.

Opoutere on the Eastern Seaboard is of most concern. Someone has poisoned hundreds of pine trees on the Department of Conservation land and our reserves which now have turned to match wood. "Any fireworks, backyard burn off or a bonfire on the beach could trigger a disaster for that community because if it's an on shore breeze, emergency services and Civil Defence will be unable to get resources in," says Mr Towler.

"People need to remember that embers in a breeze can travel up to 400 meters," he says.

The other communities at risk include Sailors Grave, Little Bay and Port Charles.

"We can see cyclones and storms building and can plan accordingly, but scrub and bush fires happen so quickly and are totally devastating," says Mr Towler.

"Whangamata is a guaranteed good time; however disorderly behaviour will not be tolerated," says Mr Towler. “The list will be handed to Police who will keep an eye out for the new breed of 'freedom camper' during the summer peak period.”

"Whangamata is also an alcohol and drama free zone this summer," he says.

A 24/7 alcohol ban will be in place from 4:00pm 23 December 2017 – 4:00am 8 January 2018. No alcohol can be consumed in any public place over this time. You can get an instant fine of $250 or be arrested if you breach the ban. Alcohol bans will be in force during other holiday periods, including long weekends. See for more information.

“We welcome you to Whangamaa to be a part of our Whangamata Whanau over the summer," says Kiri Campbell, Manager of the Whangamata Community Services Trust.

"Enjoy the sun, sand, and surf but don’t forget you are here on holiday with your family, not from your family - look after each other" she says.

"Know where your teens are and who they are with, don’t send them out pre-loaded on alcohol or in a state that could see them in the back of an ambulance, and know what their plans are to return home safely," says Ms Campbell. "The liquor ban is enforced to keep everyone safe. Less alcohol + less drama = More fun for everyone."

The Wharf wardens in Whangamata will be operating from 26 December 2017 - 6 February 2018. They manage and maintain activities at the wharf (wharf jumping/diving, fishing, mooring, charter operations) by ensuring the respective interest groups undertake their activity in the designated areas in a safe and enjoyable environment.

So follow the rules, plan before you party and look after your friends and family. Check out for more tips on keeping safe this summer.

Absentee Whangamata property owner? Help us stamp out new breed of 'freedom camper'

Photo: Whangamata Beach, Nattelle Lidgard.

Photo: Whangamata Beach, Nattelle Lidgard.

Visitors who trespass onto private property when accommodation is tight are being targeted in an initiative this summer.

Over the summer holiday period and especially when events have been held in Whangamata, Police have had to remove a number of people who were camping on private property without the owners’ knowledge or permission.

Whangamata Area Manager Garry Towler says that with more than half the properties in Whangamata owned by absentee ratepayers, individuals and groups have been arriving in town with no accommodation and these properties are at potential risk of being targeted.

“We have had some incidents where they start cruising around eventually setting up camp on a property that is not occupied. What happens next is what concerns Police and our Council. The ‘campers' have no toilet, often no water, or they turn the water on at the toby and leave it on," says Mr Towler.

“There’s no rubbish disposal and the property is used as a place to party. In some instances, damage has occurred to the property,” he says.

In a bid to quickly stamp out the unwelcome visitors, we're asking our absentee ratepayers in Whangamata who will not be staying or letting their place out over the peak summer period, 23 December 2017 - 8 January 2018 to email us at, with contact details, the physical property address, and a confirmation that no one is permitted to be on the property.

For all you need to know about Council summer hours, Kerbside collections, fire permits, water conservation, noise complaints, dog and horse rules, freedom camping, boat ramps, roading, drones and much more go to