Case put to board about trail

Viewed from horseback the Otekaieke Bridle Trail stretches into Waitaki Valley back country. The...
Viewed from horseback the Otekaieke Bridle Trail stretches into Waitaki Valley back country. The NZ Horse Network has presented its case to the Otago Conservation Board for opening the trail to the public. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
A recreational horse riding group has taken its case for opening a historic bridle track to the Otago Conservation Board.

Brenda Reading has presented her case to the Otago Conservation Board for reopening the Otekaieke...
Brenda Reading has presented her case to the Otago Conservation Board for reopening the Otekaieke Bridle Track. Photo: Sarah Hamer, Country Road Photography NZ
Brenda Reading and Karen Legg, of NZ Horse Network, presented their case for reopening the Otekaieke Bridle Track for public access of non-motorised vehicles to the board in Oamaru this week.

The trail, which stretches from Special School Rd in the Waitaki Valley to Danseys Pass, was once used to move sheep from the Waitaki Valley through to market at Naseby, Mrs Reading said.

Once the trail was no longer needed to move sheep it had been "lost and forgotten", but the trail "is and should be a recreational asset for all New Zealanders".

She said the 14.3km trail ran through marginal strip (27%), "hydro area" or river bed (33%), unformed legal road (18%), Waitaki District Council road on private land (7%) and private land (15%).

But she understood the trail could be realigned to only cover public land.

She envisioned a trail that was open to hikers, cyclists and horse riders "without first having to call an adjoining landowner to use Crown land".

Board chairman Pat Garden said while the "decision-maker" was the Department of Conservation, the board would suggest to the NZ Horse Network how to best put forward its case to Doc.

"The difficulty we've got is the Conservation Management Strategy doesn't actually allow for it, because it wasn't identified as an issue at the time of writing the strategy," he said.

In order to change that, either an amendment or a more rigorous partial review, involving public notification, would be required.

Doc Central Otago district operations manager Mike Tubbs said the impact on neighbours "would be part of the consideration" as would the impact on the department's treaty partners, and the maintenance of the trail.

One potentially affected landowner, Tony Bayley, said the status quo, with landowners managing access, worked. He was an avid horse rider and in the past had taken trips that crossed through private land and he asked for and received permission to do so.

Roughly 90% of those who asked for permission to access his land were granted it, but the farm was a workplace and there were health and safety issues. From October 1 to December 1 it was closed due to lambing.

Waitaki District Council assets group manager Neil Jorgensen said in many places along the trail the existing tracks were "well outside" of the legal road corridor and the formed roads themselves were in private property.

"It is extremely challenging to find contiguous routes in all areas," he said.

"It would be time-consuming and expensive to realign all of the boundary matters, however it is possible if someone is willing to spend the time and money sorting it out for a particular area."

Land Information New Zealand Crown property deputy chief executive Jerome Sheppard said a land status report, commissioned to establish land ownership at a specific property in the area, was being considered by the Commissioner of Crown Lands.

"We are currently working with an applicant and a number of different agencies [Doc and the council] to explore the options for better public access in this area for a range of users," he said.

The agency had yet to receive a formal application regarding access to the trail.


Add a Comment