It has been a great couple of years

2016 Eric Pyle on Daltons Track Marlborough

20/07/2018 8:40am

by Eric Pyle, Chief Executive


I have thoroughly enjoyed my two and a half years in this role. It is with a sad heart that I return to the energy sector, to work in the solar/battery area.

There have been many highlights. I have met and worked with many wonderful, dedicated people. Working with community groups has been a real highlight in this role. I salute the enthusiasm, vision and commitment of the tracks and trails groups that cover the length and breadth of the country. You are doing fantastic work.

Opportunities to get into the outdoors is an important aspect of New Zealand. It has been an absolute privilege and pleasure to contribute in this area. I want to acknowledge our board, staff, our regional field advisor network. I also want to acknowledge our partner agencies and all the people who are working to create tracks and trails in their communities.

Access underpins the development of tracks and trails. The differing approaches to public access around the country surprised me. In some areas where we have not held onto access, councils and communities are regretting that loss. In other areas we are losing public access even though the access may prove vital for connecting trails in the future.

We need a new era of tracks and trails planning and development in New Zealand.

In parts of the South Island we are seeing high levels of use of tracks and trails, creating pressures and inconvenience for landholders.

We need a plan to create infrastructure to support an increasing tourism sector. We need better infrastructure for some existing tracks and trails. And we need to expand the network of tracks and trails. Infrastructure, such as carparks and toilets, is essential. It makes the difference between a great experience for everyone and an unsatisfactory one.

In our expanding urban areas New Zealand still seems to have some distance to go in designing tracks, trails and connectivity. We run a real risk of creating urban areas that are not friendly to walking and cycling. New Zealand is discovering that retrofitting cycling and walking into urban environments is expensive. Yet we risk making the same mistakes by not considering public access when we design new urban form.

I salute the groups that are working with councils around New Zealand to get access included in new urban developments.

And then there is kauri dieback. Significant parts of Waitakere and Hunua are closed. Other tracks and trails in kauri forests may well close too. We need to develop new tracks and trails and enhance existing non-kauri trails to give recreationalists kauri-safe options. Given the millions of visits to these kauri trails that we need to shift, this is a significant piece of work.

I have learnt that a small organisation can have significant achievements when it works with others and focuses on what it wants to achieve.

I wish the Commission well in its vital role developing access to the outdoors.

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