Walking access

A great resource I have recently discovered here in New Zealand is the walking access map from the Walking Access commission. This gives all the public access areas in New Zealand, including what are termed unformed legal roads (ULR). These can be ‘roads’ in the paper sense only – they may consist of 4WD tracks, or just right-of-ways that have never been formed, and therefore are not marked at all. They often run across farms & other private property etc. However, because they are designated as public roads, the general public has, in theory, access to them. They are no different in law from formed roads. But in practice that is not always the case…

I used the wams map and found a great looking run only 5-10 mins from work. It is a hilly looking course, about 5-6km each way, climbing to c.350m. It started off fine, up a shingle road, with some houses along the way. At a levelling off at near 200m, it went through a couple of unlocked farm gates (with signs just reminding people to close the gates due to stock). So far so good. The road then turns into a 4WD track, pretty rutted and probably only used by the farmer. But still publically accessible.

However after about 3.5km, I was met with a closed gate with a No Trespassing sign on it. I was a little unsure of myself so turned around and headed back down. Later on, I checked the website, and saw from my GPS (runkeeper on my phone), that I had been blocked from accessing the road.

I emailed the wams people and got a call back saying to contact the local authority/council. He said unfortunately many landowners put up No Trespass signs like this, but they are not allowed to. The problem of course is that because the track/road is not really formed, it can be debatable where the actual right of way is!
I returned today, and at the shut gate, I saw a little track to the right that went into a forest block. Is this the ‘road’? I ran along for about another 500m and reached a fence line. Because I was out of time I’ll return next week with my GPS and see exactly where I ended up in relation to the road…

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