Ruamahanga Tobin Stopbank ULR
Photo by David Barnes

Local reserve saves fishing access to Wairarapa river

Herenga ā Nuku Aotearoa, the Outdoor Access Commission, has preserved fishing access to a corner of the Ruamahanga River after objecting to a proposal to stop an unformed legal road (ULR).

In December 2022, the South Wairarapa District Council notified that it wanted to stop a portion of the road that forms part of the Tobin Stopbank. When stopped, it intended to transfer it to Greater Wellington Regional Council for soil conservation and river control.

Herenga ā Nuku’s Wellington and Wairarapa Field Advisor David Barnes submitted an objection to the road stopping in January 2023, noting that the ULR, as a legal public road, provides for enduring public access rights. These rights would disappear if the road stopping succeeded.

Fish and Game told Herenga ā Nuku that the 300m stretch of ULR provides access for anglers looking to catch brown and rainbow trout.

Barnes talked to a consultancy agency working with both councils. They negotiated an innovative solution that avoided the two parties going to the Environment Court to resolve the objection. The regional council agreed to vest the land as a local purpose reserve. The stated purpose of the reserve includes public access, soil conservation, and river control. With enduring practical public access preserved, we withdrew our objection.

Barnes says the access is only a tiny parcel of land, but the public, especially some keen anglers, will be glad to retain the ability to get to the Ruamahanga River.

Tobin Stopbank

Note: the land is still showing as a road, not a reserve on our maps