The Queen’s Chain

What is a Chain?
It is a unit of measurement, a chain length, one hundred links made up one chain length, equivalent to 20.1m in metric length.

In New Zealand roads were traditionally the width of one chain within the cities, and between cities or large towns, three chains wide. Property was commonly divided into quarter acre sections and these were measured in lengths of chain, 1 x 2.5 chains.

What is the Queen’s Chain?
In New Zealand the Queen’s Chain is the length of one chain(20m) from the high tide mark towards the the centre of a body of water, lake, river and foreshore. This area between the high tide mark and the body of water is public land. At low tide anyone can legally access the narrow strip of land between low and high tide to get to where they are going. It is not trespassing. Note: there are some areas of land in New Zealand which are privately owned land where the Queen’s Chain does not apply.

What are Riparian Rights?
Riparian rights is ownership of a body of water to halfway, to the centre of a river and/or to the centre of a lake. Where there are multiple owners with riparian rights then the body is divided into wedges like pizza slices. Riparian rights only cover lakes and rivers. There are no riparian rights along a foreshore in New Zealand.

Riparian rights allow the owner to use the body of water for recreational pursuits such as swimming, fishing or boating, the right to take water for domestic use and for stock.