Successful Freedom Camping Summer on the Coromandel 15 February 2021 Less litter, cleaner public toilets, happier visitors and promotion of the Coromandel were all the successful outcomes of the $656,566 Responsible Camping Fund that the Government approved for our district over the peak summer period. (Photo - Responsible Camping Ambassadors (from the left) Liz Thomas, Heather Campbell, Brent Hallam and Phil Andrew, along with Bylaws Compliance Team Leader, Ken Ward. Absent from the photo are Responsible Camping Ambassadors Joke Streukens and Debbie Coyle) We hired six people to work part time over 10 weeks to promote responsible freedom camping around our District, and the evidence shows our programme has been a success. The Ambassadors' last day was Friday 12 February. “Everyone we spoke to throughout our time had a really good attitude and listened to the advice we gave,” says Brent Hallam, one of our Ambassadors. Unlike our Bylaws Team, our Ambassadors aren't warranted to give infringements, but were there to provide education and information to anyone looking to freedom camp. Over the 10-week period: Our Ambassadors did 1,165 patrols and spoke with 3,190 people. 2,000 rubbish bags were given out to campers which reduced littering significantly. Over 2,000 camping information leaflets were given out to help educate those visiting the District. An extra six staff were also employed to increase the frequency of toilet cleaning. 207 Freedom Camping infringements were given out this season by our Bylaws team, significantly lower than the number of infringements over the same period of the previous year, when 312 infringements were given out. The Ambassadors' wages and all associated costs were covered by a $656,566 grant from the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE), which also covered the increased cleaning of our public toilets. Five of their vehicles were sponsored by Smart Environmental, our Parks and Reserves maintenance contractor. This is the second year we’ve been able to run the Responsible Camping Ambassadors programme, thanks to funding from MBIE Responsible Freedom Camping Ambassador Profiles (Photo - picture of Tairua taken by one of the Ambassadors while doing their rounds) This was the first year Brent Hallam was a Responsible Freedom Camping Ambassador. He covered the Thames Coast and the northern Coromandel area right up to Port Jackson. He thoroughly enjoyed his first year and loved engaging with the locals and campers. “I was also able to discover the wonderful places where people can freedom camp,” says Brent. “It becomes a pretty easy task when your office is a sandy, white Kiwi Beach. I took a lot of photos.” “I had no major issues and met a lot of diverse people, most of the people were Kiwis or young people that were on extended visas because of COVID,” says Brent. People weren’t just coming in their campervans and parking up, they were making the most of everything the Coromandel has to offer. Over the summer, Brent found that people loved hearing the local knowledge, especially when it came to spots to visit and the best local restaurants. “One couple said they must have tried every takeaway shop on their way around the district,” says Brent. Another Ambassador, Phil Andrews, also thought the summer was a success. “Everybody was pleasant,” says Phil. A lot of people were educated on things such as the correct way to park their vehicle so that there was room for others (pictured right is how not to park). Phil was a Responsible Freedom Camping Ambassador last summer and said he noticed the difference with the reduction in overseas visitors. “The international visitors and young travellers usually have smaller campervans and travel around more, there just weren’t as many this year, they were all Kiwis with big campervans that would have otherwise gone abroad,” he says. When asked why he wanted to become a Responsible Freedom Camping Ambassador, Phil says, “I have some spare time I thought it would be a great chance to give back to the community."