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Warm weather reminder: keep all vehicles off the dunes

As the weather heats up, Ōpōtiki District Council and Bay of Plenty Regional Council would like to remind people to keep all vehicles off the dunes, to avoid causing damage to the coastal nesting areas in and around Ōpōtiki.

Council knows that people sometimes need to take their vehicles on to the beach to reach their favourite spots but ask that they do this slowly and with care for other beach users and, in particular, ask that these vehicles use official vehicle accessways and stay out of the dunes to minimise damage to these precious areas.

Ōpōtoki District Council Planning and Regulatory Group Manager, Gerard McCormack is asking for people to take care and drive responsibly using areas of the beach that vehicle use is permitted.

“We understand the benefits of being able to take vehicles down to the beach, and we’re very lucky to be able to do so in Ōpōtoki. However, Ōpōtoki District Council have bylaws in place to stop people from driving in a number of areas to help protect nesting birds in the sand dunes and people using the beach.

“To help protect the dunes eco-system and potential erosion of the dunes which protects our shoreline against inundation of the sea, we would encourage vehicle users to use designated access points to get on to the beach,” said McCormack.

Our dunes are very sensitive and vehicles cause harm to the natural character, coastal ecosystems and biodiversity that Toi Moana Bay of Plenty Regional Council and community groups (such as Coast Care) are working hard to protect.

Dunes form a crucial part of a fragile ecosystem, providing shelter to many native shorebirds, lizards and other species. Vehicle tyres crush these special creatures, and the tracks vehicles create open the dunes up to erosion.

Dunes also provide protection to homes and property vulnerable to storm surges and tsunamis. Vehicles cause damage to dune plants, which play a key role in the structural integrity of our dunes, reducing their effectiveness in storm surges and other weather events.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council Regional Coordinator for Coast Care Russell Knutson says that vehicles on the dunes are an issue along the coast, and his team frequently see the direct impacts of the damage caused.

“Our mahi is all about protecting and restoring our fragile dune ecosystems. Work has been completed along much of the coastline to restore the dunes through careful restoration, replanting and pest control. Vehicle use in the dunes damages this restoration work and can also be dangerous to others in the community.

“It's devastating when we see that people have taken the shortest route to fishing/recreational locations by driving over them or simply taking a hoon in the dune with their 4WDs.”

Find out more about the rules around vehicles on beaches