Tasman District Council recognised for contribution to public access

The Tasman District Council has today been recognised with a national award for its work improving public access to Tasman's rivers, lakes, mountains and coast.

New Zealand Walking Access Commission Chairman John Forbes said the award, presented at a council meeting in Richmond, recognised the priority the council gave to retaining and improving public access to the outdoors.

“Local government is the trustee of the public interest in access and Tasman District Council has been an excellent example of a council that is actively engaging to manage access for the benefit of present and future generations.

“This award recognises the council's work to ensure access to the region's rivers, beaches, lakes and mountains is retained and enhanced, through effective management of public access ways such as unformed legal roads and the creation of new walking trails and cycleways - many of which will also bring economic benefits.”

Mr Forbes said the Tasman District Council had been involved in many projects to improve access to the outdoors, including high profile examples such as the Great Taste Trail and the Old Ghost Road walking and cycling trail.

Other recent lesser-known examples of public access created or retained with assistance from the council include a walking route between a cycle bridge on the Great Taste Trail and the Riwaka Rivermouth, a track between Grant Road and Patons Rock beach, and enduring access to a sought after section of the Wairoa River, with agreement from neighbouring landholders, he said.

Since 2010 there have been 36 access cases lodged with the New Zealand Walking Access Commission in Tasman District. Twenty-four of these cases have been lodged since the council signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Commission to report and work together on timely and effective management of access problems when they arise.

Tasman District Council Mayor Richard Kempthorne said the beauty of the Tasman District was widely known and it had become the destination of choice for many travellers.

“In partnering with the Walking Access Commission we have been able to open up further opportunities for people to enjoy their stay.

“We have found that many of our residents are taking advantage of the greater access to some of the notable places throughout Tasman.

“This award should be shared with the many landowners and neighbours to the trails that have been an integral part of the process of identification and mapping and, of course, providing access to visitors and locals alike.”

The New Zealand Walking Access Commission Award presented to the Tasman District Council is one of three awarded this year.

Other 2014 award recipients were Te Araroa Trust, for its work developing the nationwide Te Araroa Trail, and former high country farming couple John and Rosemary Acland, for their work raising the profile of public access as part of the New Zealand's culture and heritage.