Crown Forest PAEs on our maps

Public access easements over crown forests

Public access easements (PAEs) are a specific form of public access created under the Crown Forest Assets Act 1989 to establish and protect public access rights. 

The easements were originally over Crown Forest Licences, which were established in the early 1990s. These licences enable the Crown to grow and sell its commercial forestry but keep the land for future Tiriti o Waitangi settlements. The two ministers responsible for implementing this legislation are the Minister for State Owned Enterprises and the Minister of Finance.  

When the land transfers from the Crown to an iwi, the iwi controls all decisions about the land and the licence, but the public access rights remain. Many licences and forest land have subsequently transferred from iwi into private ownership and the public access rights continue.

Identifying public access

Each Crown Forestry Licence states whether a PAE exists. These were usually created to allow public access to and from conservation areas. All the Crown Forestry Licences and the PAEs are registered in Landonline and on titles.

Because the surveys for the PAEs occurred before 2005, they generally are only on individual survey plans. They are not captured as digital easement parcels in the cadastre (Landonline). The registered easement instruments, though, are in Landonline. We are working with Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) to back-capture the PAEs so we can show them on our maps.

Terms of public access

PAEs generally permit public access on foot, bicycle, motorcycle, or light motor vehicles, although this can vary from forest to forest.

The landholder may close the access:

  • during the hours of darkness
  • for safety reasons 
  • to protect trees, buildings, plant equipment or related items on the land.

Managing obstructions on public access easements 

Although most PAEs lead to or adjoin public conservation land, the Department of Conservation is not responsible for them. 

Before accessing a PAE, you should first check the website of the forestry manager to see if it is open.  If a PAE is closed and you do not believe it is justifiable, raise the issue with the forestry manager (note this can be different to the landowner). This advice does not apply if access is closed according to the licence terms - for operational or other defined purposes. If you cannot resolve the problem, speak with the landowner.

The Commission can also help with enquiries.

Finding PAEs on maps

Some PAEs are visible on our mapping system, WAMS.

As you can see in the map of Rankleburn Forest below, the PAEs (highlighted in light pink) link between public roads (highlighted in purple) and DOC public conservation land (highlighted in dark green).

More information

Crown Forest Assets Act 1989

Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand