News from the field - October 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 Felicity Brough (Waikato) and Chris Arbuckle (Waitaki, Coastal and Central Otago).

Felicity Brough, Waikato

2015 Felicity BroughI'm a few months into the role of field advisor, and I'm finding that getting a good understanding of the legalities and practices of land access is an ongoing journey. Former Waikato region field advisor John Gibbs is still with the Commission but is now focusing on the Taupo and Bay of Plenty areas. His support has provided good continuity for the Waikato area.

This region has great trout fishing spots and beautiful native bush which creates clean water. Angler access is topical with the opening of the new trout fishing season. Facilitating respect for farmer's property rights and acknowledgement that their farm is generally also their home is a balancing act with anglers' desires to enjoy the extensive river network in the Waikato and King Country.

Over the past few months I have worked with anglers and farmers to explore and negotiate opportunities for new access to sections of the Waipa, Ongarue and Awakino Rivers. The Commission plays its part in facilitating practical access and then clarifying where the access is through the use of signs. From there we ask anglers to be respectful: a farm is like a city person's home, just on a different scale.

As a keen walker, it is a plPauanui Tairua Trail saltmarsh protection webeasure to be involved with the Pauanui-Tairua Trail. Walking the track and hearing about how the community has rallied round to assist construction is very heartening. The Commission has supported the trail through an Enhanced Access Fund grant to help the Hikuai District Trust with the costs of formalising legal access and ensuring this access is enduring.

Having a track which takes cyclists and walkers off the narrow road into Pauanui makes sense, allowing the community to exercise and enjoy the unique beauty of the Tairua Estuary. The community has played an important part in customising and making the trail their own through the planting of trees and developing other plans to bring the area's history and features to life, and a new war memorial has been created in conjunction with Thames Coromandel District Council. The Commission's role involves ongoing advice and assistance to ensure the trail remains legally enduring for future generations.

Hearing how the community use the Walking Access Mapping System (  to plan their walks, hunting and fishing trips, and providing advice to people on opportunities to access the outdoors makes being part of the Commission rewarding and worthwhile.

Chris Arbuckle, Waitaki, Coastal and Central Otago

2015 Chris Arbuckle2The past few months have been busy, with varied projects and interesting opportunities to open our outdoors in the making throughout Otago. My work has ranged from working with horse riders and mountain bikers to help resolve conflicts over access to trails, to improving signage at sites around Otago so tourists have a better idea of where tracks start and finish.

More recently I have been working with the Dunedin City Council and Cargill's Castle Trust to examine the potential for a coastal walkway between the castle and an existing popular walk – Tunnel Beach Walkway. If you like views of the coast and you are in the Dunedin area, it's worth taking some time to wander this special place. 

The track is short and steep, but offers wonderful views of the rugged Otago coast and the spectacular sandstone cliffs. If the proposal goes ahead and the track is protected by an easement under the Walking Access Act, this would go a long way towards protecting access to the area for future generations.

Tunnel Beach itself is steeped in history. In the 1870s John Cargill, a son of the “founder of Otagoâ€