Our purpose is to preserve New Zealand's whitewater resources and enhance opportunities to enjoy them safely.

Submission to MAF on Walking Access in NZ Outdoors


To: Ministerial Access Reference group
From: New Zealand Recreational Canoeing Association
Date: 30 November 2003

Submission: Public Access to the seashore, lakes and rivers, and over private land.

Submission to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry on Walking Access in the New Zealand Outdoors. A report by the Land Access Ministerial Reference Group

The New Zealand Recreational Canoeing Association lodged a submission on this matter also in March 2003.

This further submission attempts to follow the format of the "Feedback" form, issued by the Land Access Ministerial Reference Group. Headings in bold are questions posed on the feedback form.

  1. Current situation - what current processes for access are working well and why?
    • Public roads (i.e. formed, legal roads)
    • Queen's chain
    • These work well because there is generally a good relationship with land owners and because there is generally good access to Department of Conservation estate

    Not working well

    • Paper roads, i.e. legal, unformed roads.
    • Locked gates
    • Local access to pieces of Queen's chain
    • Water body moved but Queen's chain not moved accordingly
    • Land owners who do not accept or support the culture of public access to important lands and waterbodies, for the purpose of recreation. Most typically these landowners are new to the culture of owning land adjacent to recreational areas, and are often not of New Zealand origin.

    Tenure review is not working well in terms of securing appropriate access

    • Kayakers are not being considered as stakeholders when they should be
    • Neither local kayak clubs or businesses, nor the national body, the NZRCA, are being notified of key tenure review negotiations that relate to land adjacent to significant water bodies
  2. New Zealand access strategy
    • Do you think that a New Zealand Access Strategy is required?
      • Yes.
    • If so, what is your vision for an access strategy in New Zealand?
      • Enhanced access
      • Fostering of harmony between landowners and users/visitors
      • Safe enjoyment of lands over which access is obtained
      • Extension / nurturing of goodwill that currently exists
      • Access strategy should cover not only walking access but all recreational access, as well as access across water bodies (ie not just land access, but the "right to float")
      • Of specific interest to the NZRCA is access to and over waterbodies for the purpose of kayaking. Sometimes, access is gained to the waterbody by walking, (generally when there is only walking access available). However generally the preferred mode of access to rivers is either by vehicle or helicopter.
      • To address the issue, and to ensure the solution is complete, all access modes and issues need to be considered in one package.
    • What matters do you consider need to be addressed in a strategy to enhance access?
      • More than just walking
      • Strategies for negotiation between landowners and those requesting access
      • Managed access over private land - shortest, easiest, consistent with land use
      • Prevention of exclusive capture of conservation land and water bodies - i.e., the land locking of such areas.
      • Access sufficiently far up waterways and to rivers of appropriate widths and navigability, i.e. not restricted by width or ephemeral nature of water body because these water bodies also hold recreational value, particularly in terms of white water kayaking
      • (See attached photograph of kayaker on the Kakapotahi River, West Coast, South Island. Note width and gradient of river. This river is kayaked, i.e., "navigated" frequently.)
      • Strategies/policies addressing landing rights for helicopters on public domain / Queen's chain
      • Role of central body / agency / commissioner
      • Safety. There will be occasions when it is a matter of safety and prevention of injury or damage to property, for individuals to access private land. In respect of kayakers, access to the riverbank is often essential for safety reasons in cases of accidents, illness and unsafe river conditions.
      • Related to this issue is the necessity for the right to cross land away from river, i.e. if exiting river for safety, via shortest practicable route to public road/land, without damage to property
      • Access to put in points (similar to Fish & Game signage)
      • The establishment of an access register showing who, where and how the access to river may be gained.


    • The report suggests five objectives for a New Zealand access strategy. Do you agree or disagree with these objectives?
      • Strengthening leadership - agree
        • e.g. The Access Commissioner (or body vested with particular powers in respect of access) should have the power to approve/decline subdivision applications, on the basis of whether or not adequate provision made for access.
        • Eg. The Access Commissioner (or Overseas Investment Commission) should have the power to only approve purchases of land by foreigners, if access across the land for recreational purposes is preserved in perpetuity.
        • Monitor Council compliance
        • Improving certainty
      • Publicise information, contact details, signage, maps etc. - agree.
      • Embracing the Queen's Chain ethos - agree.
      • Encouraging negotiated solutions - agree, but only conditionally:
        • What is the trigger to prevent exclusive capture if no negotiated solution is possible?
        • What is the trigger to guarantee access to conservation lands, significant waterbodies, over private land purchased by foreign companies and individuals?
      • Improving current legislation provisions for access - agree.
        • E.g. prospective overseas land owners should be obliged to go through a similar system of approval to the O.I.C system ensuring that access is guaranteed in perpetuity before land may be sold to overseas purchasers.
        • E.g. marginal strips
        • There is no legislation specifically aimed at enabling access to/through private lands, this needs to be managed and controlled, with defined points for access
        • Need legislation to ensure that subdivision laws are being implemented better by Councils - e.g. having the commissioner sign off on subdivision would be an improvement.
    • How could leadership for access be strengthened?
      • Clear policy direction
      • Commissioner sign-off for subdivisions
      • Commissioner O.I.C sign off for overseas investment commission / foreign purchasers
    • How can greater clarity and certainty about the availability of the access be provided?
      • Maps, central location for information, statute
      • Suggested a co-ordinated approach with respect to landowners rather than ad hoc / each for their own
      • Poled or marked routes
      • Signage similar to Fish and Game angler signage
    • If a code of conduct were to be developed what could it cover?
      • Methods of enforcement of the code
      • Clarification of whether a deviation from a defined route is trespass
      • Protocols in safety / emergency situations
      • Obstruction
    • Do you consider the code of conduct for access could be useful?
      • Possibly but not definitely
    • How could the Queen's chain be enhanced?
      • Ensure that size of river / navigable definition does not exclude some rivers that are of some recreational value to kayakers and fishermen (refer to Kakapotahi photo)
        Submission to Land Access Reference Group

        Album: Submission to Land Access Reference Group

        Image included in submission to demonstrate navigability of narrow channels.

        (1 image)
      • Queens chain needs to move with the riverbed
      • Ensure access to the Queen's chain
      • In terms of kayakers interests - we do not want or need the "right to roam". We request that specific, defined access be provided to particular waterbodies, by the most direct and accessible route.
      • If the Queen's Chain is to be restricted to waterways of specific width and/or gradient, this needs to be carefully discussed with the kayaking community, as very narrow and steep rivers/creeks are now kayaked on a frequent basis.
    • What role could negotiated solutions play in enhancing access?
      • Promote harmony
      • Agreeable to all
      • Case by case

Dated this 30th day of November

Maree Baker
Conservation Officer
New Zealand Recreational Canoeing Association

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