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NPDC’s summer ambassador offers warm Taranaki welcome to good campers

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Summer’s here and so are the campers – and we’ve been rolling out the welcome mat to responsible visitors.

NPDC’s summer camping ambassador Phillip Old has started his second season knocking on campervan doors from Ōkato to Tongaporutu and helping visitors discover the best of our Sustainable Lifestyle Capital.

“The vast majority of people are really friendly and want to make the most of their holiday so they’re happy to chat and get a bit of local insight. I've had to become a bit of a know-all on everything from cafes and obscure museums to popular cycle tracks and hidden hikes.

Quite often I’ll get offered a drink or a bite to eat. They’re also keen to stick to the rules and help keep our scenic spots looking beautiful so they often take my advice on where to camp,” says Phillip.

"It’s great to be backed up by NPDC’s signage, web information, facilities and enforcement efforts, but it’s a work in progress and we’re always ready to adapt as camping habits change.”

Phillip first started his rounds in January last year and made an immediate difference in the number of people breaking the Freedom Camping Bylaw rules, although these are enforced by NPDC’s security contractor.

In December 2020, contractors issued 85 tickets, each with a $200 fine, but the following month that dropped to 47.

Phillip, who normally works on the family farm near Stratford, is the summer camping ambassador for 20 hours a week, mostly in the evening, over 16 weeks.

NPDC Compliance Lead Cheryl Gazley said the summer camping ambassador was part of a freedom camping programme that includes stepping up toilet and rubbish bin cleaning at popular spots like Lake Rotomanu and Tongaporutu.

“We welcome visitors to our beautiful part of Aotearoa and while there aren’t many international visitors, we’re having a good summer with a lot of good feedback from Kiwis coming to the region. Phillip’s been great in relaying feedback from locals too on what’s happening at our popular camping spots,” said Ms Gazley.

Freedom camping sites across the District can be found on the NPDC website’s freedom camping page.

Caption: NPDC summer camping ambassador Phillip Old chats to campers from Auckland at Lake Rotomanu.