Lynne Alexander receives Walking Access Award for Akaroa trails

Akaroa resident Lynne Alexander has received a Walking Access Award for her significant contribution towards developing some of the area's finest walks and making them accessible to thousands of people.

The award was presented by Geoff Holgate, New Zealand Walking Access Commission regional field advisor for Canterbury, during an event at Mrs Alexander's home yesterday following the final walk of the Banks Peninsula Walking Festival.

New Zealand Walking Access Commission chief executive Mark Neeson said it was an honour to be able to recognise Mrs Alexander's outstanding devotion over many years to making some of Akaroa's beautiful scenery accessible to others.

“Thanks to her creativity and commitment, thousands of people have been able to enjoy spectacular walks in the hills above Akaroa.”

In 1990, Mrs Alexander opened the Woodills Track, a two and a half hour circular route that starts at the village. The family-friendly walk cuts across Mrs Alexander's Tree Crop Farm property, as well as her neighbour's farm, through which she negotiated access.

Since then, Mrs Alexander has gone on to create several more walks in the area, negotiating with other farmers to connect unformed legal roads that were used as stock routes with other routes over private land.

“This is a classic example of local initiative, where residents work together to provide public walking access,” Mr Neeson said.

Mrs Alexander documented the walks in a series of handwritten pamphlets, with maps illustrated by a local artist. The maps were immensely popular with visitors, and the walks have drawn more people to the town.

The Walking Access Awards recognise those who have made significant and lasting contributions to public access to the outdoors in New Zealand, whether through securing new legal access, championing public rights of access, trail building, or contributing to understanding of access rights and responsibilities.

Mrs Alexander is the third person to receive a Walking Access Award this year. Earlier this month, Southland resident Ann Irving, a member of Rural Women New Zealand, received an award in recognition of her efforts towards obtaining public access to one of the few remaining flax wetlands in Southland.

Last month, Waitomo resident Peter Chandler received a Walking Access Award in recognition of the work he has done to develop new tracks and trails in his region. Further award recipients will be announced over the coming weeks and months.

Photo caption: Lynne Alexander (left) listens to Purple Peak Curry Reserve manager Hugh Wilson during the final walk of the Banks Peninsula Walking Festival yesterday.