Colmar Brunton Walking Access survey 2011


In February 2011 the New Zealand Walking Access Commission contracted Colmar Brunton to carry out a survey to help assess the Commission’s progress towards achieving the goals laid out in its Statement of Intent. As part of this process, the survey investigated awareness of the Commission and its key initiatives (including the Outdoor Access Code and the Walking Access Mapping System), as well as New Zealanders’ views on responsible behaviour in the outdoors.

Survey key findings:

  • 95% of respondents said free and easy access to the outdoors was important.
  • Almost all survey respondents said they used the outdoors for recreation, and around two-fifths of had actually searched for access information in the past year.
  • 6% of survey respondents were aware of the New Zealand Walking Access Commission. The Commission had been in operation for just six months when the survey was conducted.
  • 80% of respondents were interested in using an online mapping system like the Commission’s Walking Access Mapping System in the future.
  • Less than half of survey respondents said it was easy to find information on land ownership or status.
  • There is strong demand for more information on physical access points, particularly regarding beaches and bushwalks, as well as clarity of ownership and the conditions of accessing land.  Respondents said they would like to see information both on physical signs and electronically (e.g. via the web).
  • Most respondents had an understanding of the basics of how to act responsibly in the outdoors. ‘Not leaving litter’ and ‘leaving the environment as it is found’ were the first things respondents tended to think about. Most were also aware they should ask permission to cross private land, and knew to leave closed gates closed.
  • Landowners surveyed were less likely to believe that New Zealanders had a good understanding of how to behave responsibly in the outdoors.
  • Landowners’ main concerns were about damage or disruption to crops or livestock. More than half of landowners surveyed said they did not believe visitors had a good understanding of rural etiquette.


A 15 minute online survey received responses from 1,481 members of the public between 3 – 21 March 2011.

Results for a sample size of 1,481 are normally subject to a maximum margin of error of +/- 2.5%. Results for sub-groups mentioned in the survey (e.g. landowners/managers or outdoor club members) will be subject to wider margins of error.

Caution is necessary when interpreting the results of this survey due to the wide ranging and open-ended nature of many of the questions and the small sample size of some sub-groups providing answers to some of the questions.

Download report:

Note that this Powerpoint file is 3.5mb.