Date: 17 October 2012
Queens Reach, Te Anau
Te Anau’s Queens Reach Recreation Reserve will be closed for overnight camping from Tuesday 23 October 2012. The site will remain open to day visitors.
Department of Conservation (DOC) Visitor Assets Manager Annie Wallace said DOC are really keen for the public to keep using the reserve, but users need to be aware that the site is no longer an option for overnight stays. DOC will be patrolling the area over the summer to make sure people wanting to stay overnight know where they can camp instead.
The reserve is very popular for walking, fishing and boating because of its proximity to Te Anau and its good river access.
Last summer, free camping was permitted at Queens Reach in order to reduce camping in non-designated areas around Te Anau. However, rather than catering for the overflow, the area had become a camping destination in itself which concerned commercial camping businesses and local recreational users. DOC responded to this public concern by making the site open to day visitors only.
DOC will be putting up more signage to make it clear no camping is allowed and vehicle access to the reserve will be closed off between 10pm and 8am daily until May next year.
Over the next few months, DOC will be upgrading the facilities available for day visitors, including establishing picnic tables and generally tidying the area.
The closure of Queens Reach to camping will be reviewed at the end of the season and the status of the site re-evaluated prior to the start of the 2013/14 summer season.
- The decision to close Queens Reach to camping is the conclusion of a trial on managing freedom camping in Te Anau last summer and a series of public and stakeholder consultations on the issue.
- The Department of Conservation and Southland District Council were part of a pilot project for establishing control on freedom camping in Te Anau last summer. The trial was successful in removing most of the camping from car parks and streets around Te Anau. However, an unintended side effect of this process was that Queens Reach conservation area became a default free camping area as people were moved on from town.
- Commercial camping businesses in Te Anau basin were concerned that the site had become a free alternative to their commercial sites and locals, who had used Queens Reach for a range of recreational activities, were concerned about environmental degradation of the site.
- In May, the Department of Conservation and Southland District Council ran a series of meetings to present the results of this trial and canvas public opinion around options for the 2012/13 summer season. Following these discussions, the Department explored the option of creating a paid self-registration campsite at Queens Reach which would allow for a limited number of campers in a defined camping area. Public submissions were called in July to consider the options of setting up a paid DOC self-registration campsite at Queens Reach, maintaining the status quo of a free camping area or closing the site for all overnight camping.
- The majority of submissions received were not in favour of establishing a paid campsite at Queens Reach, but rather wished to see the area closed to camping for at least one summer season.
Community Relations Programme Manager
Te Anau Area Office
Ph: +64 3 249 0200