Birchville Reservoir
Photo by Brian Stocks


Crown land: land vested in her Majesty the Queen in right of New Zealand that is not set aside for any public purpose (such as a national park or conservation land) and not held in private title.

Esplanade reserve: a parcel of water margin land vested in a local authority under part 10 of the Resource Management Act 1991. It has fixed, surveyable boundaries.

Esplanade strip: a statutory easement along a water margin made under part 10 of the Resource Management Act 1991. It has boundaries that move with changes in the watercourse.

Landholder: includes owners of land, lessees, licensees, share milkers, trustees and other persons who have authority to grant access permission.

Marginal strip: a strip of land along a water margin reserved by the Crown on the disposal of the adjoining land by the Crown. These were originally made under various land acts and were fixed in location irrespective of movements in water margins. Since 1987, they have been made under the Conservation Act 1987, and those made since 1990 move with any change in the location for the water margin.

Mobility device: a vehicle that is designed and constructed (not merely adapted) for use by persons who require mobility assistance due to a physical or neurological impairment and is powered solely by a motor that has a maximum power output not exceeding 1500 w, or any other device that meets the definition in the Land Transport Act 1998.

Paper road: a commonly-used expression for an unformed legal road. See “unformed legal road”.

Private land: any land that is held in fee simple by any person other than the crown; any māori land (within the meaning of section 4 of Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993), and any land that is held by a person under a lease or license granted to that person by the crown.

Public land: any land that is not private land. This includes parks and reserves held by local government or the department of conservation for a variety of purposes, and crown lands and forests held by Land Information New Zealand and state-owned enterprises. Public land may not always be available for public recreation.

Queen’s chain: a commonly used expression for a parcel of land (usually 20 metres wide) reserved for public use alongside a water margin, including the sea, lakes and rivers.

Road: a formed or unformed road, that does not include a private road (within the meaning of section 315 (1) of the Local Government Act 1974).

Territorial authority: a city council, district council, or regional authority recognised as such under the Local Government Act 2002.

Unformed legal road: land legally set aside as being road, but not formed as a road. That is, it may be unsurfaced, unfenced and often indistinguishable from the surrounding land but is still subject to all the legal rights and obligations that apply to formed roads, including the right to pass and re-pass with or without vehicles and animals.

Vehicles: cycles, horses, motorbikes, four-wheel-drives, cars, etc.

Walking access: the right of any member of the public to gain access to the New Zealand outdoors by passing or re-passing on foot over land over which the public has rights of access, and performing any activity that is reasonably incidental to that passing or repassing. It includes the use of mobility devices and disability-assistance dogs.

Walkway: Walkways are one of a range of legal mechanisms that provide walking access. Walkways differ from the other walking access in that they are declared as Walkways under sections 24 or 31 of the Walking Access Act 2008 and have statutory benefits and obligations.

It includes any part of a Walkway and includes any Walkway, established or administered under the New Zealand Walkways Act 1990, that was in existence immediately before the Walking Access Act 2008 came into force.

Water margin: a general term referring to the point at which the water in a sea, lake or river adjoins dry land. For legal purposes, more specific terms are used, such as mean high water mark or mean high water springs.