We have a safety issue on Waikawa Beach, and it’s to do with horses. We want your views about what action to take.
Imagine this: you’re down on the beach enjoying your favourite recreational activity, perhaps flying a kite or model aircraft or riding your dirt bike. The kite’s fluttering in the breeze, swooping and diving. It’s good fun.
Now a horse and rider come along after a good jaunt along the beach. The rider sees the kite, between them and the only exit from the beach horses are allowed to use: the vehicle entrance. This rider knows their horse, like many horses, will startle at the erratic movements of the kite.
They can see there’s no room to get around the folks having fun with their kite as there are vehicles driving around nearby.
Folks train their horses as best they can, but just like dogs and people, horses vary in their response to events in the world around them. Some well-trained horses will ignore something like a kite swooping, while another, equally well-trained, may take fright.
As a responsible rider, and in the interests of everyone’s safety, they’d like to exit the beach another way when a tricky situation arises.
That’s the kind of scenario that underlies a petition from about 50 horse riders to the Horowhenua District Council asking to be allowed to use the South Track off Reay Mackay Grove.
Horses aren’t allowed on either beach track off Reay Mackay Grove, and the Council don’t, as a rule, allow horses and pedestrians to share a track, but there could be a way to give horse riders that safe exit from the beach that they’re after.
Ann Clark, Parks and Property Lead South • Kaiārahi ki te Tonga, Papa Rēhia, Rawa, Horowhenua District Council says:
…we have identified a number of options that could allow horses access at that point and the next steps would be to get the communities feedback through the association on what would be agreeable.
I see the following options could be feasible and achievable (someone else may have better ideas):
- Allow the path to be shared with horses required to move off the track to give people right of way
- Split the path (potentially simple post and rope) to create a physical separation — horses one side only
- Option 1 with the requirement that riders dismount and walk their horses along the track
As far as the post and rope path, I’m not talking anything huge or elaborate and it could be something we could get the many riders (50+ on the petition) to help us put in
All of these options will need to have appropriate signage which we can create.
There is a fourth option to consider too: doing nothing and leaving horse access to the beach as it currently is. Riders who find their way blocked by recreational activity or perhaps an incoming tide will just have to wait, tough it out or get creative with how to ensure the safety of themselves, their horse and the public.
Down in Ōtaki (Greater Wellington Region) the track along the Ōtaki River is shared by walkers, cyclists and horses. The sign below helps clarify how that should work.
You might ask: why do riders want to use the South Track rather than the North Track? The answer is that the North track is still too close to the vehicle entrance and the sand near the North track is a popular area for motorbikes and others. The safety issue would not be well resolved with that track.
Other factors, besides safety, underlie the petition for horses to be allowed to use the South track: ease of access and convenience.
There are several horse owners on the Strathnaver side. It would be easier, safer and more convenient for them to be able to legally access the beach without riding round Strathnaver Drive to the village.
At times the vehicle entrance is very busy and that end of Manga Pirau Street is full of vehicles and people. Riders would like an alternative, quieter, access to the beach.
We would really like to hear from you about which access option you prefer. We can convey the feeling from our community to the Council so they can consider what action to take. Ideally, if any changes are to be made they would happen in November, before the summer holiday.
Please leave your comments below before 7 am on 21 October 2018. The Association’s next committee meeting is later that morning.