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‘Same as SH1’ campaign re-launched for unformed legal roads

Home Forums General Discussion News ‘Same as SH1’ campaign re-launched for unformed legal roads

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    • Town/City: Tauranga
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    A campaign to raise public awareness of the status of New Zealand’s 56,000 kilometres of legal unformed roads has returned with an interest group looking to mark down some tracks.

    Federated Mountain Clubs wheeled out its “same as State Highway 1” campaign for the holiday season, with president Jan Finlayson saying she was aware the status of such roads had been “fraught”.

    “As land use and ownership changes, so too does the access to these unformed legal roads,” Finlayson said.

    “These roads are critical connections and provide access to the commons.”

    Finlayson said with NZ’s borders still shut, many people were taking the opportunity to explore their own backyard.

    “There are about 56,000km of these unformed roads throughout the country, and they have the same legal status as any road, including State Highway 1.”

    Finlayson said South Canterbury was privileged to have several networks of unformed legal roads, in particularly the Mackenzie bullock trail, which runs from Burke’s Pass to Lake Pukaki.

    “It’s the ability to travel through land in a way that is interconnected that makes these roads so special.”

    Finlayson said the organisation was considering marking in some way certain presently unformed legal roads.

    “With the advance in GPS technology, these are getting easier to find.”

    Finlayson said she would like the Government to increase the powers of the Walking Access Commission (WAC) to allow them to enforce these roads.

    However, a spokesperson for the WAC said the situation could be complex.

    “Unformed legal roads have the same status as formed roads,” he said.

    “But often a better solution, rather than a blanket enforcement of those legal access rights, is to find out the access that best meets the needs of everyone involved and negotiate a new, sustainable solution.

    “That includes the public, such as trampers, as well as the farmers or landholders and the environment – the land itself.”

    Federated Farmers general manager for policy and advocacy Gavin Forrest said while these roads had legal status, accessing them in some cases might be difficult from a practical point of view.

    “A lot of these roads were drawn up by someone somewhere in England with no real examination of what they would actually look like on the ground in terms of accessing them,” Forrest said.

    “We advise people to always get in touch with the landowners first, as they might even suggest better routes to travel.”

    Forrest said the WAC had been very good at finding positive solutions.

    “I think the system is working pretty well,” Forrest said.

    Game Animal Council general manager Tim Gale said there needed to be a more consistent approach.

    “Most landowners are very reasonable when it comes to allowing recreational access,” Gale said

    “However, a more consistent approach needs to be applied to unformed legal roads across the country, which is why the Game Animal Council supports empowering the Walking Access Commission to be able to make decisions in this area.”

    Gale said there are many situations where a formed road exists parallel or close to an unformed legal road or the unformed legal road is impractical for access.

    “In that case it seems reasonable to be able to transfer public access to the formed road or another nearby route through negotiations with the landowner, and we believe the commission should be authorised to do this.”

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    This got me looking for a decent map of these unformed legal roads, even just the one the article mentions of the Mackenzie Bullock Trail. It seems everything is geared around walking-only access, sometimes mountain bikes?

    The UK has it’s similar green-lane network, and it seems that over various COVID lockdowns the Govt has taken the opportunity to close them to vehicles, leaving only for foot, horse, mountain bikes – a real shame that resource is slowly disappearing to off-roading.

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