Motor vehicle access guidelines

Motor vehicles are permitted within most of our regional park areas and we welcome you to explore, subject to a few rules.

All vehicle access is subject to normal road rules and vehicle regulations that can be enforced by police under the Transport Act. This includes vehicle licensing and registration requirements.

Braided river bird nesting season is from mid-August to mid-January, so steer clear of open shingle areas during this time to avoid harming endangered wildlife. Read more in our Tread Carefully (PDF File, 887.57KB) brochure. 

Offences for damage to river flood protection infrastructure can be subject to penalties under the Soil Conservations and Rivers Control Act.

Damage can include driving on the sides of stopbanks and groynes, other than on a formed ramp or road.

Antisocial or damaging behaviour against park assets and facilities, or endangering other park users, could lead to fines or prosecution, or even exclusion from park areas under the Trespass Act.

Please read the following rules carefully and check our notices and events page for up to date notices and closures.

Ranger ute out in the river 

At no time should motor vehicles:

  • Create a hazard to other park users through excessive speed or dangerous driving,
  • Be operated on flood protection infrastructure such as the sides of stop banks and groynes except where formed access ramps & roads are provided.
  • Cause damage to park facilities, trees, vegetation, maintained grass areas or roads,
  • Cause annoyance to other park guests and wildlife by way of noise, dust or speed.
  • Operate in closed areas as indicated by fences, gates and signs except on business.
  • Ignore requests or instructions from Environment Canterbury staff or their agents.

Prohibited Zone (red)
No motorised recreational vehicle activity is permitted in this zone, this includes but is not limited to:

  • Unregistered motor vehicles such as trail bikes and buggies
  • Motorised recreation such as four wheel driving.

Restricted Zone (yellow)
These are the areas that have minimal developed infrastructure in place, normally limited to access roads for river protection and fencing.

There are no marked trail bike tracks or designated areas for motor vehicle recreation in these areas.

Environment Canterbury expects vehicle operators to assume liability for their own actions within the general guidelines and laws governing vehicle use.

Riverbed access can be restricted in places, such as during bird breeding seasons, or contactors work sites, when there will be signs in place promoting this.

Open Trail Bike Area (green)
These sign posted areas are managed for specific unregistered trail bike activity. No other motorised recreation is allowed in these areas.

At Kaiapoi Island, for example, where there are marked one-way trails that are maintained specifically for trail bikes.

Vehicles using these areas must obey signage, including codes of conduct and remain courteous to other park visitors and stay on the indicated routes.