Access rights and privileges

Legal public access to the New Zealand outdoors is covered by a variety of statutes. It is currently difficult to ascertain exactly where there is public access and where there is private land with no right of access. For example, a river may have some sections where there is public access and other parts where there is no legal access. Tracks which are shown on maps, including the NZ Topographic map 1:50,000 series, are not necessarily public access ways.

This section of the Code describes many of the different types of legal public access and also explains issues around access across private land, including trespass and the liabilities that landholders may have for those who use their land for recreation.

Responsible behaviour in the outdoors includes being aware of the fragmented nature of public access and seeking permission to go onto land that is fenced-off or appears to be private.

Practical information and guidance on what to do to avoid damage to property or the environment or risks to others is given in a later section of the Code.

Gouland Downs

Public access

In New Zealand, public access to land, waterways and the coast is extensive, but often fragmented and difficult to locate.

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2012 Nokomai Station sign Federated Farmers

Private land

It is the prerogative of landholders to refuse access to their land, even if such access may have been traditional and the request seems to be reasonable

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