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Value of dune planting and restoration easy to see at Mount Maunganui beach

June 2022

Mount Maunganui beach of today is unrecognisable when compared to photos from sixty years ago.

Photos from the 1960s show a drastically different beach with no rich dune habitat and steep banks down to the water.

Coast Care Regional Coordinator Russell Knutson said the difference between now and then is down to persistent and ongoing dune restoration and favourable weather conditions during the establishment phase of these restorations.  

Mr Knutson said when dune rejuvenation began in earnest in 1995 erosion had resulted in two-metre-high banks above the beach which people had to climb down to reach the water.

 “There wasn’t a wide enough band of sand to plant on until 1999 but once that was done our native dune plants trapped and stabilised sand to create a new dune area more than 30 metres wide today,” he said.

“These photos are just such a great example of how important dune restoration and caring for our dunes is.”

Not only do dunes provide a beach for us they are also important ecosystems that provide a home for many native plants, insects and animals.

In addition, they are coastal communities’ first defence against extreme weather events as they absorb and disperse much of the wave energy created by these storms.

Mr Knutson said the dunes at Mount Maunganui already face erosion due to many environmental factors in the area so it is important that people don’t exacerbate that trend by trampling the dunes – instead keep to the official beach pathways.

“Coastal rejuvenation has got us to this really sweet point where we have a beautiful beach, one of the most popular in New Zealand,” he said.

“If we want to keep it that way and not return to how it was, we need to care for our dunes. I would also encourage anyone who is interested to take part in one of our dune planting days to keep an eye out for an upcoming one via our Facebook page, Coast Care Bay of Plenty.

“We’re very grateful to all our volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to achieve results like this without them.”

Coast Care is a coastal restoration programme, run in close partnership with local communities, local authorities, care groups and schools, that aims to restore and protect the sand dunes along our Bay of Plenty beaches.

This month a number of dune planting events are being held across the region’s beaches – for anyone interested in getting involved visit the Coast Care Bay of Plenty Facebook page for dates and times.


1960s photo of Mount Maunganui main beach.

Mount Maunganui main beach today.

Erosion in the 1980s.

Mount Maunganui main beach today.

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