News from the field - February 2015

'News from the field' provides a roundup of public access topics being worked on by the New Zealand Walking Access Commission's regional field advisors. This month, we hear from John Gardiner (Auckland and Northland) and Chris Tonkin (Nelson, Marlborough, West Coast and Kaikoura).

John Gardiner, Auckland and Northland

John GardinerRecently I attended the inaugural walk by an enthusiastic group who have their sights set on developing a new walking and cycle way from Matakana to Pakiri called 'Big Omaha Trail'. This exciting new route, which follows formed and unformed legal roads, is most impressive for its outstanding, elevated coastal views to the north, east and south.

I never cease to be amazed and inspired by the number of community groups actively engaged in developing or enhancing access to the outdoors for the general public. Although most of these projects are for walking access, access provisions for cycles and horses are also being included more frequently.

Increasingly it is being realised that time in the outdoors is essential to our individual health and wellbeing. Time in the outdoors is known to have physical, psychological, spiritual and developmental benefits and, as a species, we need to touch base with the outdoors from time to time to feel whole. I once read that “experiencing wildernessâ€