Strategic Narrative 2021-2025

Connecting people, connecting places

Trails connect us

  • to this land of ancestors, to te taiao, and our unique natural world
  • to our stories and our heritage
  • to active lifestyles, health and wellbeing, and
  • to each other.

These connections drive our shared values of

  • kaitiakitanga
  • community, and

These connections create the appeal of trails for visitors and our local and international tourism economy.

And they support our need for sustainable development and infrastructure.

What we do

Since our beginnings in 2010 we have been establishing a robust operational platform:

  • Connecting recreationists and groups through our world-leading trails database and online maps.
  • Joining people and communities to the environment through trails, such as Te Araroa.
  • Connecting local government, iwi, community groups and trail champions by developing long-term regional trail strategies.
  • Our network of regional field advisors strengthens local connections to landholders and communities.
  • Providing advice on public access, resolving access disputes and negotiating new access opportunities with landholders.

What we also do

We have committed resources to key projects:

How we do it

Our landscapes extend from the mountains to the sea, across many land types. The commission is unique because we can work across all these land types and statutory boundaries. Our work includes:

  • aspects of all four capitals in Treasury’s Living Standards Framework – good trail networks and outdoor access provide NZ with economic, social, human and natural capital.
  • working with national agencies including the Department of Conservation, Sport NZ, Waka Kotahi, and LINZ.
  • partnering with iwi, both on specific access issues and in our regional strategy development work in Taranaki, Matakana, North Waikato and Te Tairāwhiti.
  • delivering an Outdoor Access Code that fosters positive interactions between outdoor users and landholders.

All the time we strengthen the connections between people and communities by growing the level and quality of their outdoor access and trails.

These national, regional and local successes help to realise our vision for the future.

What we will do

As we secure future resources, we will extend our work to include:

  • Iwi-led Tairāwhiti project
  • Cross-agency collaboration
  • Māori partnership and engagement
  • Policy development
  • Supporting a nationwide network of tracks and trails groups
  • Enhancing cycling infrastructure

What we aspire to do

Specifically, we want to improve access and wellbeing for our communities across Aotearoa by:

  • Working in partnership with iwi to ensure the active involvement of tangata whenua at all levels of local, regional and national trail development.
  • Supporting regions with fewer resources to develop the excellent access and trail opportunities they have. This will help grow community wellbeing, support a sense of local identity, and bring social, environmental and economic benefits.
  • Enabling all of us to be able to find and enjoy trails, both close to where we live and across this country’s remarkable landscapes.
  • Fostering a nationwide network of tracks and trails groups.
  • Building the skills and capacity of everyone involved in trail development.

The Walking Access Commission Ara Hīkoi Aotearoa provides leadership on access to the outdoors. We build a legacy of public access to the outdoors for everyone in New Zealand.

Our focus is on connecting this country and all its special places with a vibrant network of local, regional and national trails that supports many forms of recreation and activities.


Join our team on our journey to grow public access and trails across all of Aotearoa.

See our Statement of Intent 2021-2025 for more detail