Better Beaches – Access to Ours

For a number of years, probably at least ten, the Waimakariri Council has been trying to find a solution to competing views on access to our beaches.  These include the mouth of the Waimakariri at Kairaki, Pines Beach, Woodend Beach, Waikuku Beach, the estuary and mouth of the Ashley-Rakahuri and Asworths Spit north of the Ashley mouth.  In addition, a swimming beach is proposed for Pegasus.

I don’t regard many of the views I have heard as extreme, but there is a point where compromise becomes unlikely.  Many of those who swim at our beaches or walk along them do not want motor vehicles and/or horses on the beaches.  Horse riders and trainers want to have access, as do whitebaiters with motor vehicles in the season.  Fishers want to be able to take the vehicles out to the Waimakariri mouth.  A lot of people are concerned about the damage motor vehicles do to the dunes and to wildlife and plant life, especially in the Ashley-Rakahuri estuary.  This estuary is of national importance for its birdlife.

Over the last few months, the Council has been trying to bring all the talk to a conclusion with a change to the District Plan and a By-Law.  In a very long session this afternoon, it did just that.

As a result of decisions this afternoon:

  • Motor vehicles are banned in the inter-tidal zone between Woodend Beach and the Ashley mouth, except that in the whitebait season they may access the river mouth through a locked gate (keys will be issued) at Waikuku.  The access of the latter must be along the inter-tidal zone on the seaward side of the spit.
  • Motor vehicles are permitted in the inter-tidal zone from Kairaki to a point 400m south of Woodend Beach.  Their only access is at Kairaki.
  • Motor vehicles are permitted in the inter-tidal zone on Ashworths spit.
  • Horses are permitted in the inter-tidal zone.
  • Further consultation will be undertaken to find a horse-unloading area and an access track for horses at Waikuku.
  • A horse unloading area and access track has been confirmed for Woodend Beach at the southern end of Ferry Road.
  • Tangata whenua access to reserves in their ownership is protected.

Note that motor vehicles are already banned from dunes (except along a marked route at Waikuku in the whitebaiting season) and on the soft-sand areas of the beaches.

I think this is only one stage along the way.  We will hear a lot more community discussion about our beaches for some years to come!

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