The New Zealand Walking Access Commission says unformed legal roads are often colloquially referred to as "paper roads".
The public rights of access over unformed legal roads are the same as the public rights on any formed road, like an urban side street, a rural route or a town's main thoroughfare.
Unformed legal roads provide for public access to rivers, lakes, beaches and other public land across the country, including land managed by the Department of Conservation.
Sometimes the routes are well used and well marked, while in other cases use is light and the road is not well marked.
Sometimes the alignment of an unformed legal road does not provide for practical access and the adjoining landholder agrees to voluntarily permit public access over his or her private land.
Top tips for people wanting to access paper roads:
- Consider others when enjoying the outdoors, leave gates as you find them, know your rights and responsibilities when carrying firearms, walking with a dog or lighting fires, and ask permission before crossing private land.
- Landholders are encouraged to follow the Kiwi tradition of allowing reasonable requests for access across their property and to respect public rights of access across their property.
- © Fairfax NZ News