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Freedom camping: Motorists fumes worth over $200 after sleeping in a truck after drinking

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Tau Scott awoke to find a $200 fine for sleeping away from drinks the night before in a parking lot in Arrowtown. The attached photo

A motorist was outraged after paying a $200 fine after choosing not to drink, drive and spend the night safely in a public parking lot.

Tau Scott is seeking legal advice over the ticket issued last Saturday morning, after he opted to sleep off drinks he had the night before in his stand-alone van in a parking lot.

“Driving under the influence appears to be recommended in the Queenstown area. I was fined $200 in Arrowtown for not driving under the influence,” he said.

“It sounds like blackmail.”

Scott said three other free-standing cars also stayed in the same parking lot overnight but that no tickets were issued for them.

Scott, who said he is a member of the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association, believes the signs in the public car park were misleading after he parked his car in an area that appeared to be for camping enthusiasts.

According to Google Maps, a 2019 photo of what is believed to be the entrance to the Ramshaw Lane parking lot itself had a sign that read “Strictly not camping.”

Scott’s ticket specified that his offense was “freedom camping in a restricted area without prior permission.”

Queenstown Lakes District Council bylaws prohibit free camping in city centers, residential areas and along major stretches of roads.

Outside of these areas, visitors in approved autonomous vehicles can park up to two nights at any designated location on the Conservation Department, Neighborhood Council or Transport New Zealand land, provided they are within a safe distance from the road.

Scott emailed the board, requesting a $50 fine reduced due to his intention not to drive drunk misleading signs, and the fact that his truck was self-sufficient and that it was a one-time accident.

In response, a council employee said they would not be given a reduced fine and mentioned Scott’s right to pursue court proceedings if he wanted the matter to proceed.

Scott said he bought the truck late last year at a rough time in his life before he went on a “personal trip” around the South Island. He said that life was looking for him, until he got the ticket.

Freedom camp in Wanganui.  Photo/NZME
Freedom camp in Wanganui. Photo/NZME

in 2019, A similar case arose when Arrowtown man Glenn Wallace was fined $200 To sleep in a ute in central Queenstown after drinking.

Wallace, who said he knew he should have paid a cab fare or a backpacker night, felt the fine sent the wrong message about drunk driving.

“I try to be responsible here, but I get punished for it,” he said in 2019.

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