Paper roads

Paper roads are relatively widespread across New Zealand and are more precisely called 'unformed legal roads'. They may exist only on paper, never having been developed, but they have a legal existence, whether on private or public land.

There are hundreds of kilometres of paper roads in Waitaki, generally found on farms. Generally these are fenced in with adjoining owners' land and often the public unaware that legal access exists.

Road stopping

A paper road may never be needed as a formed road, in which case Council can undertake a process to remove the roading designation. This is called 'road stopping'.

The road stopping process

Road stopping is a process undertaken to change a legal road (road reserve) into fee simple land so that it is no longer subject to the law relating to road such as rights of public access. A road can only be stopped if it is considered that the road is no longer needed.

Road stopping is publicly notified and the steps to be followed are set out in Schedule 10 of the Local Government Act 1974. Once its status as a public road is removed it can be sold. In some cases, Council may offer the adjacent landowner the right to purchase the land.

If you wish to stop a road on your property please send your request in writing to Chief Executive, Waitaki District Council, Private Bag 50058, Oamaru 9444.

If you need further information about road stopping or paper roads, please send us an email to or use our online request for information form.