Contributed by: New Zealand Walking Access Commission
Summer can be a busy time for farm managers.
Among the pressures they face are more people who may want permission to cross their land.
Many families and tourists head into the outdoors over the holidays. So farmers and landholders have more people walking and cycling in their areas, and sometimes across their land.
This is an important part of New Zealand culture. And it is something we are all thankful that farmers and landholders support.
But it can create tensions.
The Walking Access Survey 2015, conducted by Colmar Brunton, found most people (92 percent) got access across private land when they asked.
It is important that people accessing rural environments behave responsibly.
The Commission tries to make this easier by promoting our New Zealand Outdoor Access Code.
We try to make sure people know and follow the basic rules in the Code to preserve the relationship between visitors and landholders. These rules include considering others when enjoying the outdoors, taking care when using firearms or lighting fires, and asking permission before crossing private land. People accessing private land with the permission of a landholder should leave gates as they find them, not litter, keep dogs under control and take care not to disturb farm animals or walk through crops. The Code also includes guides for accessing the outdoors on bikes, horses and by 4WD. It has important information about respecting sites that are significant to Māori.
Most people have a pretty good understanding of responsible behaviour in the outdoors. But we need to continue raising awareness of responsible behaviour to maintain links between urban and rural New Zealand.
We are grateful that farmers share their special places with families and visitors from around the country.
It is good to remember that most of those visitors want to do the right thing. If they don’t know what that is share our Outdoor Access Code with them. Together we can protect access to the outdoors at the same time as protecting the crops and animals on our special lands.