A group of Kapiti dog walkers are asking their local council for a concession to walk their charges off-leash through a forested part of Waikanae Park.

The group, known as the 10 O'Clockers have been walking together daily for the last 10 years, starting on the flat Waikanae Pony Club land and then through part of the park's hilly forested area.

A narrow forest path is lined with trees and allows the walkers shade and a beautiful walking route.

The group, of various ages, has just been told by Kapiti Coast District Council animal control that their dogs must be on a lead in the council owned forest area, under a bylaw, which has caused concern.


"It may not seem like a big deal but with up to 18 small dogs running around, because they are all interacting, they're wrapping themselves around each other, which is a trip hazard," group spokeswoman Kate Thomson said.

"They get tangled up in people and each other."

The group sees it as safer to have the dogs running free because there is more room to move, and the forest area also provides shade and is a more interesting route.

"Through the trees it's just wonderful.

"We tried just walking on the pony park to the croquet green the other day but it's only a few minutes and we just got so hot in the sun.

"All we're asking for is a concession.

"I don't see the logic in not letting them off the lead [in the forest].

"Most of them mill around us.

"They're just fluffy lap dogs."

Council environmental standards manager Jacquie Muir said all recreational reserves in the Kapiti district, except those specifically specified, are designated a dog on-leash area.

"The dog walking group in question was approached by our friendly animal control team when last in the Waikanae area with their dogs, and informed of the bylaw through a chat as well as given a hard copy of the council dog guide.

"I understand that they were also told about the upcoming dog control bylaw consultation and given direction around how to submit suggestions.

"On-leash and off-leash areas are designated through the dog control bylaw which is currently under review.

"Community members can have their say on issues such as this by submitting once the consultation is open later this year."

The dog walking group says the importance of the group is not only in exercising the dogs but in socialising both the dogs and people.

Having walked together for 10 years the group says this is an important part of its everyday routine.

"Most of us are pensioners and getting old, and a lot of older people are isolated," Kate said.

Many walkers turn up every day, including one walker who is 94 years old.

As well as allowing a time for social interaction with other locals the group takes the responsibility of being dog owners seriously.

"We often have puppies and this is an opportunity for the other dogs to teach them the social norms."

One of the dogs Evie has epilepsy and Bear has asperger syndrome with both dogs now being well and truly part of the group.

"It's lovely that she [Evie] can walk in a gentle group with little dogs."