Caples River
Photo by Sam Genas, CC BY-SA 3.0

Public access to marginal strips

Marginal strips are parcels of Crown-owned conservation area land, generally 20m wide, adjoining some parts of the coast, lakes larger than 8ha and rivers wider than 3m.


Marginal strips provide public walking access and access to the water. Other access permissions vary across locations. Marginal strips can be closed temporarily.

Purposes of marginal strips

Our maps

A satellite view of a river with access strips highlighted on either side

Marginal strips that have been surveyed appear in our maps as part of the layer ‘DOC Public Conservation Land’ (green). The area shown above also shows legal road (purple). Open map

Marginal strips created between April 1990 and June 2007 have not been surveyed as land parcels. Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) data does not generally show these marginal strips, so they do not appear in our maps.

Creation and administration

Marginal strips are created automatically on the disposal of Crown land, reserving the water margin from disposal. Since 1987, they have been created under Part 4A of the Conservation Act 1987. They were previously made under various Land Acts.

Marginal strips are administered by the Department of Conservation (DOC).

Erosion and accretion

Marginal strips created since 1990 move with the relevant water boundary to ensure public access endures into the future. Those created earlier are fixed and are affected by erosion and accretion.

Read more: Rivers, lakes and coast