Regional Field Advisors

The New Zealand Walking Access Commission has regional field advisors located throughout New Zealand. The advisors are the public face of the Commission in the regions, and the first point of contact for access issues or questions about land that is accessible to the public.

The Commission welcomes invitations for its regional field advisors to meet with local organisations or to speak about the Commission's work at regional events or club evenings. Media enquiries should be made to the Commission's communications advisor, in the first instance.

2015 regional field advisors


John Gardiner

Northland Dip. Parks and Recreation

John was raised on a farm in South Canterbury before commencing his 40-plus year career with the Department of Lands and Survey, and then the Department of Conservation. His earlier years were spent as a ranger in several national parks, a period at DOC head Office, and management of two farm parks, before moving to Northland in 1978. He recently retired as the DOC Whangarei Area Manager. John has extensive experience working with land management legislation and negotiation with landowners to establish walkways, access easements and protection covenants over private land. He has worked closely with Northland’s recreation groups, land owners, communities, local authorities and Iwi on a broad range of projects and issues. 027 2422181 ^ Top
Barbara Horsburgh web

Margaret Horsburgh

Auckland RN, EdD, MA (hons), BA

Margaret has lived all her life in Auckland, where she is a keen tramper and walker and outdoor enthusiast. Originally training as a nurse in the 1960s, she has subsequently worked for several decades in the tertiary education sector. She has been involved in a large number of regional and national health and education committees and through this and her community work has been brought into contact with a wide range of people across the Auckland region. She has an ongoing interest in New Zealand’s culture and heritage and has continuing involvement with Auckland’s museums. 021 444 012 ^ Top
2015 Felicity Brough

Felicity Brough

Waikato MSc (Management Science), Manchester (UK)

Farming is an integral part of Felicity’s life. She grew up on a coastal Wairarapa farm and now runs and owns a sheep and beef farm in the King Country with husband Mark. Their on farm tree planting programme is a particular interest of Felicity’s and she is also involved in a wide range of community organisations. Off farm, she has worked for a range of corporates and not for profit organisations in various roles including rural banking. Felicity enjoys tramping, mountain biking and gardening. Many of her family members are hunters and fishermen with a keen interest in access to the outdoors. (07) 877 7550 ^ Top
RFA.JohnGibbs th

John Gibbs

Taupo and Bay of Plenty

John Gibbs is the Commission's regional field advisor for the Taupo and Bay of Plenty regions. Raised on a Taihape hill country farm, John has had a 46-year-long career in roles with both the New Zealand Wildlife Service and Department of Conservation. Most of John’s work has been in trout and salmon fishery management and freshwater conservation, based in Rotorua, Te Anau and Taupo where he was Taupo Fishery Area Manager for DOC at the time of his retirement in 2010. Much of his work involved managing access issues for anglers and he has had a broad experience working with landowners, iwi, local, regional and central government agencies and the corporate sector on this and related issues. John has been a lifelong angler, hunter, tramper and outdoorsman and is also a keen gardener, walker, boatie and motorhomer. 021 380 726 ^ Top
Rod Smilie for RFA Page 2

Rod Smillie

Manawatu, Whanganui and Taranaki

A lifelong passion for the outdoors, coupled with his interest in people prompted Rod to take on the role of regional field advisor for the New Zealand Walking Access Commission, for the Taranaki, Whanganui and Manawatu regions. Rod, an ex-farmer, brings plenty of experience to the role, having worked 14 years for the Department of Conservation (DOC) and 25 years in search and rescue operations. 027 326 9002 ^ Top

Nicola Henderson

Hawke's Bay and Wairarapa Dip. Hort., Cert Landscape Design, Fellow NZILA (retired)

Nicola grew up on a Southland farm and now lives and works in Central Hawke’s Bay on a sheep and beef farm where she and her husband Myles raised their four children. She spent much of her professional career as a landscape architect, working with farmers, local and regional councils and iwi. As a keen walker and outdoor enthusiast, Nicola is regularly involved in assisting groups and individuals with the creation of walking tracks in rural, peri-urban and urban situations. Her community service brings Nicola into contact with a wide range of people. 027 2323018 ^ Top
Chris Ward RFA pic

Chris Ward


Chris is a keen tramper and mountaineer who spends a lot of his leisure time in the outdoors. This includes a weekly trip in the Eastbourne hills setting possum traps and an annual tramping trip with a group of friends. He has a background mostly in agribusiness and throughout his working life has very much appreciated the positive contact he has had with land owners, who have generally been very open and reasonable about access over their land. His background has included work as a farm consultant, rural property manager, a role in the meat industry and lecturing in agribusiness. 027 286 0697 ^ Top
2016 RFA Penny Wardle

Penny Wardle

Marlborough, Kaikoura, Nelson and Tasman

Penny is a journalist and communications consultant, based in Marlborough for over 30 years. She especially enjoys telling the stories of people who look after the environment while making a living from the land and sea.  Highlights have included covering resource management hearings, helping judge farming and forestry sections of the Marlborough Environment Awards, communicating biodiversity and biosecurity messages for Environment Canterbury and researching stories for TV ONE rural business programme Rural Delivery. She enjoys the outdoors and in 2013 walked the Northland section of the Te Araroa trail which runs from Cape Reinga to Bluff. 027 205 2339 ^ Top
Inger Perkins RFA pic

Inger Perkins

West Coast BSc (Jt Hons, Geography/Geology), Dip (Rec Management)

Inger has always been captivated by the landscape and great outdoors of New Zealand and left a career in recreation and golf management in the UK to explore most corners of NZ and to volunteer with DOC in three areas in 2003.  This led to an offer of employment and she has worked for DOC on the West Coast for 11 years.  Her role encompassed permissions, consents, and community relations, including advocacy, awareness and occasional access issues. Inger is also manager of the West Coast Penguin Trust, a community conservation trust working to conserve penguins, seabirds and the coastal environment in this region. Through both roles, she has worked with the various Councils, iwi, and landowners, managers and developers to advocate for and negotiate conservation outcomes across the Coast. Inger loves to be outdoors, whether gardening, walking, cycling or kayaking.  She’s also a keen landscape and nature photographer. 027 370 1876 ^ Top

Geoff Holgate

Canterbury B.Ag.Sci, M.Ag.Sci (Ecology), Member Resource Management Law Association of NZ, Member LEADR (Association of Dispute Resolvers)

Geoff grew up on a sheep and beef farm in South Otago. After completion of his study at Lincoln he joined the Department of Lands and Survey to work in the South Island high country. Currently Principal of his advisory partnership (dealing primarily with management of natural resources), Geoff’s extensive career has been principally associated with land and resource management in the South Island high country. Geoff enjoys tramping and cycling with his wife Mary-Ann. 021 1901984 ^ Top
2015 Chris Arbuckle2

Chris Arbuckle

Otago, Waitaki and the Catlins MSc Zoology, PG Dip Wildlife Management

Chris was a born and bred in Otago, growing up in Wanaka and then Dunedin. His career has focused on environmental science and policy; including senior roles in both Central and Regional Government. In 2013 he returned to self-employment and now works with government, farmers and communities on a suite of environmental projects focussed on freshwater and land management. His interests include walking, tramping, photography and mountain biking. Chris has been regularly involved in creation of mountain biking tracks in Dunedin and Otago. He has been actively involved in the mountain biking scene in Otago since the mid '90s and volunteers nationally and locally for mountain biking organisations. 021 2965879 ^ Top
2015 Ange van der Laan3

Ange van der Laan

Queenstown Lakes and Southland B. Env Management & Planning

Born and raised in Auckland, Ange started her working life as a horticultural apprentice. After a stint overseas she returned to New Zealand to work in visual media and moved to the Queenstown Lakes District. She continues a strong involvement with a range of community groups and has worked with a wide variety of stakeholders including DOC, landowners and farmers and local government. Together with her husband (an ex-sheep farmer from the Waitaka Valley), Ange enjoys skiing, biking and walking. 027 4844677 ^ Top