Explore the region's recreational waterbodies with new StoryMap

Lake Pukaki

Information about Canterbury's publicly accessible coastal, river, lake and wetland recreational sites is now available in our new online 'StoryMap'.

Features of new recreational waterbodies StoryMap

How to use the StoryMap tool

The online resource is designed to help people explore our beautiful region and decide which publicly accessible site best suits their recreational needs – be that walking, kayaking, swimming or any number of other activities. There's information about over 900 sites, stretching the entire length of Canterbury’s coastline, 17 rivers and 13 lakes.

Canterbury Water Management Strategy (CWMS) senior strategy advisor, Anita Fulton, said our rivers and lakes are highly prized for recreation throughout the year by locals and visitors.

"Different activities, interests and users require different flow conditions at different times. For example, some require a wilderness experience, while others need white-water conditions for kayaking or safer flows for tubing or swimming. This is a real asset for all freshwater recreational users."

New data available
StoryMap site information

The StoryMap provides comprehensive information on each site/location - as shown in this photo (click to view larger) - including:

  • facilities
  • signage
  • features
  • accessibility (eg vehicle or pedestrian)
  • links to summer recreation water quality results (where available), and
  • a photo of the location.

All the sites are accessible to the public without the need for the landowner’s permission.

Hugh Canard, long-term tramper and kayaker, and community member on the Regional Water Management Committee said the StoryMap was a significant knowledge resource for better understanding and appreciating our freshwater resources.

"We love planning our trips in the outdoors, but knowing where the access points to the river are is often the biggest hurdle. This new layer of waterway access information will be a great resource for everyone – including families, schools, trampers, hunters, fishers, kayakers, rafters, and pack rafters. I am excited about the potential for every river user to learn more about and enjoy our region's amazing rivers and lakes. Our shared heritage is now available at your fingertips."

Accessing the StoryMap

The data is available via:

Responsible behaviours in the outdoors

We are committed to providing this information in the context of responsible use and behaviour in the outdoors. The Walking Access Commission provides a checklist of access rights and responsibilities, which covers topics such as dogs, vehicles, fire-risk, caring for the environment and Māori land.

Broadly, it is about being responsible in relation to outdoor access, including by:

  • taking responsibility for one's own actions
  • following any reasonable advice offered
  • being considerate and respecting the interests of other people
  • caring for the environment
  • seeking permission for access to private or Māori land
  • earning and respecting the tikanga Māori so that behaviour does not cause cultural offence, and
  • getting the correct permits for hunting and fishing.

There is also useful information on the Department of Conservation's site on:


The project has been underway for over 10 years. Some key milestones included:

  • 1997 – The Coastal and River Environment Monitoring project started monitoring public access to the coastal marine area.
  • 2011 – With the development of the CWMS, public access information was collected for Canterbury's significant rivers.
  • 2019 – Data collection for public access lake and wetland information began.

Managing water quality and quantity is the statutory responsibility of regional councils, Fulton said.

In Canterbury, there is also the CWMS, which operates as a collaborative, community-led approach to addressing critical water management issues through non-statutory actions.

"Recreation and Amenity Opportunities is one of the 10 target areas in the CWMS. These activities provide health and social benefits, economic benefits, and cultural benefits to recreational users," she said.

Further information

For more, visit the Outdoor Access Code pages on the Walking Access website.

Note every effort is made to identify and verify public access points through site visits and checking the data using maps, plans and the digital cadastral database (DCDB). As such, the information on the StoryMap is only accurate to the time of the survey.

If you have any feedback on any aspect of the sites or would like more information about the project, please contact us via customer services or 0800 324 636.