Functions and Principles


The Commission’s functions are provided for in section 10 of the Walking Access Act 2008.

It is to:

  • provide national leadership on walking access by:
    • preparing and administering a national strategy; and
    • coordinating walking access among relevant stakeholders and central and local government organisations, including Sport New Zealand;
  • provide local and regional leadership on, and coordination of, walking access in collaboration with local authorities;
  • compile, hold and publish maps and information about land over which members of the public have walking access;
  • provide advice on walking access to the Minister or any other person;
  • facilitate resolution of disputes about walking access, including initiating negotiations about disputed issues, mediating disputes and referring disputes to a court, tribunal, or other dispute resolution body;
  • negotiate with landholders to obtain walking access (including walkways, which are one form of walking access) over public or private land; negotiate rights in addition to any walking access that is obtained, such as the right of access with firearms, dogs, bicycles, or motor vehicles;
  • administer a fund to finance the activities of the Commission, or any other person, in obtaining, developing, improving, maintaining, administering, and signposting walking access over any land;
  • receive and manage private funding, contributions, or sponsorship for the promotion of walking access;
  • research, educate the public about, and participate in topics and programmes related to walking access;
  • develop, promote, and maintain the code of responsible conduct;
  • administer walkways under the Act, with planning and supervision focused at a local level; and
  • monitor the compliance with, and enforcement of, the Act in relation to walkways.


In carrying out its functions the Commission applies a set of principles:

  • in exercising its leadership role, the Commission will be an independent, responsive, open and influential catalyst facilitating access;
  • the New Zealand economy is based on a strong and stable set of property rights and a legal system which values certainty and predictability; 
  • New Zealand has a well-defined legal framework for the ownership of land, which spells out the property rights and responsibilities of those who control access to land, whether privately or publicly owned; and
  • a strong tradition has evolved whereby members of the public are generally given permission to access privately owned land, if they ask permission first and respect property, other people and the environment.