David Barnes attempts to unravel and demystify the different types of conservation land and other public land that is important to outdoor recreationalis

The Queen Elizabeth II National Trust arranges protective covenants over private land. A covenant is a permanent binding agreement on aspects of how the land is managed. Sometimes, it’s just a patch of native bush in a gully on a farm where the farmer wants to ensure that it’s not cleared or grazed.

At the other end of the scale is the Mahu Whenua Covenant, covering four whole highcountry stations between Arrowtown and Wanaka. Covenanting is a remarkable act of goodwill by landowners who give up some of their private property rights to leave a legacy for the future. As the covenanted land remains private, access is commonly still available only with permission. Sometimes there will be marked and signposted public access. In some cases, there will be no formal basis for this – just landowner goodwill. In others, there will be a legal easement, providing permanent secure public access. An easement may be subject to restrictions, such as prohibiting dogs, or to seasonal closures.

An example of a significant easement is the spectacular Motatapu Track, which traverses Mahu Whenua from Macetown to near Glenhu Bay. It is part of the Te Araroa Trail and, despite being on private land, is managed by the Department of Conservation. Numerous other tracks on these properties have got or will have easements formalising them.

Learn more; qeiinationaltrust.org.nz/places-to-visit/ 

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. FMC thanks David for his excellent series and his services to outdoor recreation and conservation.