Key Differences Between Esplanade Areas

The main differences between the three types of esplanade areas are described below.

Esplanade reserves

Esplanade reserves may be required when land is subdivided, when land is reclaimed, when land is developed (through the use of conditions), or when a road is stopped under the LGA 1974. Esplanade reserves can also be created voluntarily.

They are classified as reserves under the Reserves Act 1977 and land ownership is transferred upon deposit (completion) of the subdivision plan to a territorial authority.

The boundary of an esplanade reserve is measured from its bank where it is a river or stream, or its margin where it is a lake, or from the mean high water springs (MHWS) where it is in a coastal area. In all cases the landward boundary is a fixed survey line. Accordingly, the landward boundary does not change as the water boundary accretes or erodes. Further details on defining the location and width of banks and tidal boundaries are provided in the next section (Defining boundaries next to waterbodies).

Esplanade strips

Esplanade strips may be required by a rule in a plan, when land is subdivided, reclaimed, or developed; or when a road is stopped. They may also be required by a condition of consent for reclamation. Additionally, an esplanade strip may be created voluntarily at any time by agreement.

Esplanade strips are a legal instrument created between a land owner and a territorial authority. They are registered on the title, but the land within the strip remains in the ownership of the land owner. Although identified on a survey plan, they do not need to be formally surveyed.

The creation of a strip, and restrictions and requirements relating to its use and management, are noted on the title and bind every party having an interest in the land. The form of the agreement and standard restrictions to be imposed on an esplanade strip are defined in Schedule 10 of the RMA.

An esplanade strip can include provisions to exclude access by the public during certain times or under certain conditions (as prescribed in Form 31 of the Resource Management (Forms, Fees, and Procedure) Regulations 2003 - also see examples of conditions in the advantages and disadvantages table below).

Unlike esplanade reserves, the width of an esplanade strip remains unchanged within the same allotment. So if a river bank is eroded by 2 metres, the width of the esplanade strip then extends beyond its old boundary by 2 metres to offset the lost ground.

Esplanade strips can be varied or cancelled by a territorial authority subject to the procedure set out in s234 of the RMA. Similarly where a condition applies, an esplanade strip can be changed, reviewed and cancelled under s127-132 of the RMA.

Access strips

Access strips can be used to enable public access to or along water bodies or public land. They can be established at any time by agreement between the land owner and the territorial authority under s237B of the RMA.

Access strips are surveyed and fixed, but their ownership remains with the land owner. The creation of a strip, and restrictions and requirements relating to its public use are defined in Schedule 10 of the RMA and are set out in the form of an easement registered against the title to the land.

Access strips may be cancelled at any time by agreement between the land owner and territorial authority, taking into account the matters in s237B(4) of the RMA.