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Windsurfers - take ownership of your local site

This article in the Nelson Evening Mail discusses the rubbish issues around freedom campers, and specifically mentions a popular windsurfing spot in Atawhai. While windsurfers are undoubtedly not responsible for the mess its a timely reminder that while we may not make the mess its our backyard and we will suffer the most if it gets wasted. Broken glass, dog shit (and worse) are not conducive to a great days sailing, and it doesn't take much effort while taking a break to tidy up a bit. If there's no rubbish containers get the council to put something in. Take pride in the area and you'll get oneside big time with the locals too.

The article:

A group of Nelson motorhome owners have joined a nationwide effort to improve their image by taking practical steps to fight the litter problem.

Members of the New Zealand Motorhome Forum, a group of about 1000 people nationwide, got together on Saturday morning to clean up spots frequented by freedom campers.

Similar clean-ups were organised for many other parts of the country.

Group members – many of whom also belong to the much larger New Zealand Motorhome Association – are annoyed they are lumped in with those who do not drive self-contained vehicles and who are responsible for growing complaints about human waste and litter at parking spots.

They started out at Tahunanui by the Abel Tasman statue, where they did not find any rubbish, and then moved to Atawhai Drive, where a spot used as a windsurfing base was littered with food wrappers, empty bottles, small bags of household rubbish and a large pile of garden waste.

Spokesman Mark Rosser, who has been a motorhome and caravan owner for more than 30 years, said the litter and waste problem was worsening and had been particularly bad last year.

He said it seemed the message had got out overseas that "it's easy to go to New Zealand, buy a van and stay anywhere you like – which isn't the case".

There should be better information for freedom-camping tourists about where they could stay and what the rules were, perhaps driven by Tourism New Zealand.

But not all of the problems were caused by visitors.

The forum members were engaging in the clean-up "to try to divorce us from the rest of them who are dropping the rubbish".

The Atawhai Drive spot was often used by freedom campers without self-contained vans, he said.

Another forum member, Gary Howard, said he hoped the clean-up would be "the start of something".

"We're brassed off that everybody's been tarred with the same brush."

Campervans that did not have self-contained waste systems should not be allowed on the road, Mr Howard said.

Meanwhile, the South Island's National Party faithful have told the Government to do something about the problems caused by freedom campers.

At this weekend's National Mainland conference in Oamaru, party delegates George Truman and Russell Wilson said something needed to be done to stop campers who used facilities illegally – so-called freedom campers.

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