Nominations invited for outdoor access awards

It's that time of year again, when a nationwide search begins for individuals and organisations that have made a significant contribution to outdoor access in New Zealand. Top achievers will be recognised with a Walking Access Champion Award.

The awards, presented by the New Zealand Walking Access Commission (NZWAC), recognise those who have made significant and lasting contributions to public outdoor access, whether through securing new legal access, championing public rights of access, trail building, or contributing to understanding of access rights and responsibilities.

NZWAC chief executive Eric Pyle urged New Zealanders to put forward nominees, saying the awards are a way of strengthening the country's walking access heritage.

“The Walking Access Champion Awards celebrate those who have made a meaningful contribution to public outdoor access in New Zealand.

“We are privileged in New Zealand to have such a diverse range of spectacular scenery, from stunning lakes and beaches to richly-varied forest and mountain landscapes. This is an essential part of our national heritage and culture.

“By giving these awards, we are recognising the value of outdoor access, and promoting the importance of preserving what we have for future generations.”

Award nominees may include people whose dedication sees them maintaining a particular walkway, a community group that has worked hard to open up a trail or a territorial authority that has helped enhance access, actively resolve a public access dispute or undertaken a significant programme to enhance access opportunities.

This is the fourth year that the Commission has run the Walking Access Champion Awards. In 2015, Waitomo resident Peter Chandler received an award for his efforts to develop new tracks and trails in his region. Southland resident Ann Irving was recognised for helping create a legally enduring track giving access to flax wetlands. Akaroa's Lynne Alexander received an award for her contribution towards developing some of the area's most scenic walks.

Other winners included Stratford District Council and employee Neil Cooper; Sport Bay of Plenty; Dunedin City Council employee Andrew Lonie; Whangarei District Council employee Hilton Ward; Geoff Chapple, founder of the Te Araroa pathway; and policy advisor Hunter Donaldson.

To find out more about nominating someone, visit the Walking Access Awards section of the Commission's website (