Most of the bush can be entered without crossing private land, e.g. from the ends of roads. However there are many wild spots that are accessed over farm or other private land. It is often necessary to ask permission or to get a permit. To find out the name and address or phone number of the contact person, inquire at the local Department of Conservation office. The Parkmap series of maps also list contacts and local tramping and hunting clubs often have this information. Inform the landowner how many people are in the party and exactly where you want to go. If you are writing then enclose a stamped self-addressed envelope.
Parties crossing private land should maintain a good relationship with the landowner. This not only avoids hassles between the party and the land owner but also avoids difficulties for future parties. A good set of guidelines is:
Entry into water supply areas is usually banned in order to protect the purity of town water supplies. Such areas are marked "Prohibited Entry" on maps. It may be possible to get a permit to enter these areas from the appropriate water controlling authority especially for a tramping club party (where they can be assured of responsible use). A couple of authorities have a few "open days" during the year when the public is allowed into the water supply area.
Conservation Parks and Areas (Forest Parks and other areas) are run by DOC who encourage recreational use. Access is free but occasionally parts of a park may be closed due to a high fire risk or animal control programmes.
A permit is required to bring in a dog or firearm. Dogs may be banned from some areas in order to protect native animals. Dogs need to be controlled in areas where poison baits have been laid for possoms (these are announced well in advance and signposted). Also many huts display notices about not bringing dogs indoors or allowing them under the hut. On the other hand some huts frequented by hunters provide kennels (usually plastic barrels).
Major access points to Conservation Areas may have a resident ranger, a visitor centre, a hut and/or a camping site. Handbooks and brochures are available from DOC for the more popular routes in the areas.
People can go anywhere in National Parks with the exception of a few areas of special scientific interest where there are protected animals or plants. Occasionally parts of a park may be closed due to a high fire risk or animal control programmes.
The two main restrictions on what you can do in a National Park are that no domestic animals (including dogs) are allowed and that you must have a permit for any firearms. There are a few other local restrictions, e.g. no camping on the Milford Track. Check for notes on the DOC noticeboards at major access points. It is always a good idea to visit the DOC Visitor Centre at the park for up-to-date information about tracks, huts, access points, snow and river conditions. Many parks also have an intentions book at the Visitor Centre and will check that you have emerged from the bush by your due date. Just remember to notify them at the end of your trip.
The Walkways system was set up to give walking access to areas where people could enjoy rural scenes, scenic beauty and point of cultural and historical interest. There are three grades of walkways:
Many walkways cross private land where people are expected to keep to the track and use stiles to cross fences. Where they cross farms, they may be closed from July to September for lambing, calving or other farming activity.