News from the field - October 2014

'News from the field' provides a roundup of public access topics being worked on the New Zealand Walking Access Commission's regional field advisors. This month, we hear from Geoff Holgate (Canterbury) and Nicola Henderson (Hawke's Bay and Wairarapa).

Geoff Holgate, Canterbury

Geoff HolgateMany of our country's unformed legal roads (ULR) have a fascinating history and I have been looking at two interesting ones recently – one in Lees Valley near the Townshend River, and the other in the Hurunui, into Lake Sumner.

There are still some ULRs that have not been surveyed and are simply recorded as hand drawn lines on the old plans, but both of the roads in these two cases have been surveyed.

The Townshend ULR is part of the Wharfedale Track, which was initially a stock route into Lees Valley. The construction of a cart road started in 1879, to create a road linking the Canterbury Plains with Lees Valley.

Unfortunately the formed road was largely destroyed by floods and landslips and it was abandoned after approximately eight years.  An eye-witness account published in The Star on 16 January 1889 records: “This cart road when it was finished some two years ago, must have been splendid, but now, alas, floods and landslips have told their tale. Bridges – a dozen at least have been washed clean away, and hundreds of yards of the road in various places have been carried to the bottom of the ravines, a dizzy depth below. Such a wreck of an excellently-made road seems incredible, unless one has seen it.â€