The Outdoor Access Code

The Outdoor Access Code is a New Zealand Walking Access Commission publication, which sets out the rights and responsibilities of recreational users and landholders.

Our society is increasingly urban, and despite our strong rural cultural identity and economic reliance on agricultural products, people may not be aware of rural customs and local practice, or understand the adverse impacts their actions can have. The Code spells out the need for people to behave properly and to take responsibility for their actions in the outdoors. It also asks landholders to continue the long-held New Zealand tradition of landholders giving access to people wanting to cross their land.

For the public

New Zealand is blessed with stunning rivers, mountains, lakes, forests and beaches, but not all have public access. Before you walk, fish, hunt or ride, check where you can go and what you’re allowed to do.

Respect other people’s property

  • Always ask permission before accessing private land.
  • Leave gates as you find them. 
  • Don’t damage fences. If there’s no gate or stile, go through the wires or climb over at posts.
  • Don’t disturb farm animals or walk through crops.
  • Report damage or stock in difficulty to landholders. Leave the environment as you found it
  • Take extreme care with fires and be sure you have permission or a permit, if required.
  • Take litter home and bury toilet waste away from waterways.

Consider others

  • Keep dogs under control and don’t leave their faeces behind.
  • Be courteous when driving motor vehicles and stick to formed roads.
  • Control your speed when cycling or horse riding and let others know you are passing.
  • Be extra-safe with firearms. Follow the Firearms Safety Code.

Respect Māori land

  • If you want to access Māori land, Māori Land Online (maorilandonline.co.nz) can help you find who to ask for permission. 
  • Respect sites that are culturally significant to Māori and learn local tikanga (customary values). These may differ from place to place.

For landholders

Access to the great outdoors is a wonderful part of New Zealand’s culture. As a landholder you can grant or refuse permission to access the land you own or manage. Granting access allows visitors to enjoy the outdoors, but there are also valid reasons why you may sometimes refuse access. 

Be reasonable

  • Respond reasonably when people request permission for access.
  • Explain any reasons for refusal and why you have set conditions.
  • Respect people’s rights of public access, such as use of unformed legal roads and marginal strips.
  • Remember people can use unformed legal roads and marginal strips that provide access, even when they are not easy to identify.

Consider safety

  • Warn visitors about any out-of-the-ordinary hazards on your land arising from work activities, such as tree felling or blasting.

Work with local authorities and recreation groups

  • Join with others to help manage access issues and make it easier for the public to understand their rights.
  • Work with others to provide tracks and signs to clearly mark public areas people can access.
  • If you want to signpost a voluntarily granted access route across your property, the New Zealand Walking Access Commission can help. The Commission has partnered with Federated Farmers New Zealand and Rural Women New Zealand to provide free signs to members of those groups
Page last updated: Nov 16, 2018, 4:37:02 PM