Types of legal public access

There are many different types of legal public access. These include:

Walkways. There are several dozen gazetted Walkways in New Zealand. Any statutory Walkway is subject to constraints on behaviour set out in sections 54-58 of the Walking Access Act 2008. The Commission appoints controlling authorities to administer Walkways.

Coastal area. Public access to the coastal area (essentially beaches) is covered by the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011. Most of the common marine and coastal area is open to public access, except some areas that have been affected by erosion and some areas where private title extends across the foreshore.

Access around the coast, lakes and along rivers is provided by a range of reservations. These water margin reservations, popularly known as the ‘Queen’s Chain’, are far from complete and have been affected by erosion in some cases. A public right of access around the coast above the foreshore depends on the existence of these kinds of reservations.

Public land also includes:

  • esplanades and other reserves administered by local authorities;
  • Crown land; and
  • marginal strips and unformed legal roads (paper roads).

Access restrictions to public land are a matter for the administering authority and any statutory power they may have to regulate access.