Outdoor Access Champion Awards
The Outdoor Access Champion awards recognise those who have made significant and lasting contributions to public access to the outdoors in New Zealand, whether through securing new legal access, championing public rights of access, trail building, or contributing to an understanding of access rights and responsibilities.
These awards are New Zealand’s way of saying thanks to some of the wonderful people who have helped open up the great outdoors to the public.
We encourage people to think about their local champions – both individuals and groups – and put forward a nomination for consideration.
The awards were inaugurated in 2013. Below is a list of previous recipients.
The Omaui Tracks Trust, which worked to form a new walking track from the Omaui Scenic Reserve in Southland. It provides Southlanders and visitors with a new outdoor experience to the top of Omaui Hill, with a fine view of Foveaux Strait and Bluff Harbour.
The Green Hut Track Group, whose members have been volunteering for 20 years. They are a fantastic volunteer group working with everyone in the environmental and recreation sector in Dunedin. Last year they carried out more than 2500 hours of track maintenance.
The Waikato River Trails Trust, which was formed in 2006 to develop a network of trails along the Waikato, with the aim of bringing visitors to the beautiful South Waikato. Over the last six years more than 420 volunteers have planted more than 100,000 native plants. The trail is 105 kilometres long and is now open to the public 365 days a year. It supports over 20 businesses that provide services to people who visit the trails.
Rod Brown, who led efforts to open public access to a hidden waterfall in central Kerikeri, which had been unavailable for decades.
Robert ‘Mutt’ Lange, who gifted 53,000 hectares in Central Otago, and Russell Hamilton, his local manager, who is creating a track network for public use.
Rod Eatwell, the largest private landowner on the Queen Charlotte Track, who at age 88 still maintains the track and has extended it to a lookout on his land.
Duane Major and Adam Gard’ner, who led the public campaign that saw more than 40,000 people donate to buy a beach in Awaroa Inlet and add it to Abel Tasman National Park.
Te Araroa Wellington Trust, a volunteer group that established the Paekakariki-Pukerua Bay escarpment track, which will be walked by more than 60,000 people in its first year.
Nelson Tasman Cycle Trails Trust, who are building trails for cyclists around their region, including working on a 175km Great Taste Trail loop track.
Whareroa Guardians Community Trust, who have worked tirelessly since 2007 to build tracks, plant natives and trap predators in a farm reserve on the Kāpiti Coast.
Waitomo resident Peter Chandler received an award in recognition of his efforts to develop new tracks and trails in his region.
Southland resident Ann Irving was recognised for her work to create a legally enduring track giving access to one of the few remaining flax wetlands in Southland.
Lynne Alexander from Akaroa received an award for her contribution towards developing some of the area’s most scenic walks.
Sport Bay of Plenty received an award for its Virtually on Track website and City on its Feet programme, which aim to encourage outdoor access and physical activity in the Bay of Plenty region.
Dunedin City Council employee Andrew Lonie was recognised for his contribution to improving mountain biking opportunities in the Dunedin region.
Whangarei District Council employee Hilton Ward was recognised for his contribution to improving land access for people in the Whangarei region.
Geoff Chapple, known to many as the founder of Te Araroa pathway, was recognised for his contribution to public access. Te Araroa stretches 3,000km from Cape Reinga in the north to Bluff in the South.
Policy advisor Hunter Donaldson received an award for his contribution to public access policy and the framework under which the New Zealand Walking Access Commission operates.
The Tasman District Council received an award for its work improving public access to Tasman’s rivers, lakes, mountains and coast.
Former high country farming couple John and Rosemary Acland were recognised for their work raising the profile of public access in the Canterbury region.
Nelson farmers Ian and Barbara Stuart were recognised for their efforts to enhance public access, on their property and in their region.
Dunedin resident Brian Hayes, a former registrar-general of land, received an award for developing a range of invaluable legal resources on public access.
Wingatui resident Alan McMillan, chairman of Public Access New Zealand (PANZ), was recognised for his work to uphold public rights of access to the outdoors.