In this occasional series, David Barnes attempts to unravel and demystify the different types of conservation land.  

You’d think that a recreation reserve would be one of the most important to trampers, but that’s not really the case. Most reserves can be vested in (i.e. the government passes control to) local authorities and so many recreation reserves are rugby fields or golf courses. But there are still plenty of recreation reserves where you can go for a wander. One of the most-visited one is the Cape Reinga Recreation Reserve which, with the adjacent Te Paki Recreation Reserve, covers the northern tip of Te Ika a Maui (a.k.a. North Island). For trampers, it’s the start (or end) of the Te Araroa Trail. Because the focus is on recreation, development that provides for recreational use tends to be allowed (think about the rugby fields). Examples of this on conservation land include the mountain bike trails developed at Seven Mile Recreation Reserve, west of Queenstown, and the Remarkables Skifield, which is in the Rastus Burn Recreation Area.  Because concessions (generally permission for commercial activities) are considered against “the purposes for which the land is held”, it’s arguable whether the industrial-scale development of a skifield would be allowed in a place that is held for conservation purposes, but it’s easy to see why it can be allowed in a recreation reserve.

Next time: Scenic Reserves

David Barnes is a long serving member of the FMC executive. He is FMC’s nominee to the NZ Conservation Authority, the public representative board which provides advice to DOC and the Minister of Conservation.