Walking Access Award for Waitomo's 'unassuming champion'

Waitomo resident Peter Chandler has received a Walking Access Award in recognition of his outstanding efforts to develop new tracks and trails and make access to the outdoors easier and more enjoyable in his region.

The award recognises those who have made significant contributions to public access to the outdoors in New Zealand through securing new legal access, championing public rights of access, trail building, or contributing to understanding of access rights and responsibilities.

“The awards are an opportunity to acknowledge and thank those passionate, committed people who strive to make walking more accessible,” said New Zealand Walking Access Commission chief executive Mark Neeson.

“Their efforts make it easier for New Zealanders to go out and enjoy our stunning outdoors.”

Mr Chandler was nominated by the Te Araroa Trust. The trust's chief executive Rob Wakelin referred to Mr Chandler as an “unassuming champion of walking access” who had “worked tirelessly - without reward, recompense or recognition - to improve the quality of the Te Araroa route through the area.”

Over the past few years, Mr Chandler has helped to vastly improve a track on the Pehitawa route between Waitomo and Te Kuiti; refurbished and maintained an old logging track in the Waitomo Forest; and gained access permission from landholders to trial a safer and more enjoyable walking route through two farm properties.

Felicity Brough, the Commission's regional field advisor for Waikato, presented the award to Mr Chandler at a dinner award ceremony at Waitomo's Huhu Café last night (27 October). Five other award recipients will be announced over the coming weeks and months.

Award nominees can include individuals, community organisations and government. The winners of the 2014 awards were Tasman District Council, for its work improving public access to Tasman's rivers, lakes, mountains and coast; 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 New Zealand's culture and heritage.

Photo caption: Peter Chandler and his wife Libby receiving a national Walking Access Award 2015 at the Huhu Café in Waitomo last night.