Dog dos and don'ts in cycle trail bylaw

By Lindy Laird

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Dogs and horses will now be allowed on parts of the family-friendly Pou Herenga Twin Coast Cycle Trail in the Far North. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Dogs and horses will now be allowed on parts of the family-friendly Pou Herenga Twin Coast Cycle Trail in the Far North. Photo / Peter de Graaf

Dogs on a leash can now be taken on most sections of Northland's Pou Herenga Twin Coast Cycle Trail but the only motorised vehicles allowed will be mobility scooters, according to a new Far North District Council bylaw.

The council took notice of public feedback and made changes to the draft bylaw after considering 164 submissions.

The new bylaw, effective from October 1, allows dogs on the trail except where easement agreements with landowners ban them, horse riding but only with permission from the council first, and people can cycle or walk on the trail at night.

The council originally wanted to ban people from taking dogs or horses on the cycle trail or using the trail at night.

Should any problems arise from the more relaxed stance, the bylaw can be tightened in future.

At the last current council meeting, councillors and staff said "the dogs" was the most controversial part of the cycle trail bylaw.

Ann Court said most dogs were not a problem in public.

"The majority of dogs are very good and their owners are coming along nicely," she said.

The bylaw is designed to protect the trail, ensure public safety and cater for the diverse needs of trail users, the council heard.

Unlike other cycle trails in New Zealand, the track was designed primarily for cyclists and was not a "bridle trail", however some sections were suitable for horse riding.

"We can't allow unrestricted horse riding on the trail, because horse hooves would damage the trail surface and cyclists might startle horses if approaching them from behind," assets/infrastructure general manager Jacqui Robson said.

"We also recognise that some people in the Kawakawa-Moerewa area use the trail to walk or cycle to work."

The council and track users needed to respect the property rights of people whose land the trail crosses, she said.

The agreements overrode the bylaw.

The council will signpost those sections of the trail.

"We've tried really hard to get this right," Ms Robson said. "However, we expect large numbers of people to start using the trail when it is completed this summer, so we may need to impose additional restrictions in the future."

- Northern Advocate

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