Beware wormholes

This photo was sent in by Lesley-Anne Walker after the weekend activities: Sunday’s victim of the worm holes.

A tractor stuck in the sand and sea.
Sunday’s victim of the worm holes. Photo submitted by Lesley-Anne Walker.

Apparently one local talked to the couple who own this tractor. They couldn’t get it out. Decided to abandon it and went off in their boat fishing for the day.

By Monday morning there was no sign of it — either sunk or retrieved …

Vehicle access to the beach, updates

Update Wednesday 02 May 2018: in the interests of keeping the information together and enabling useful discussion, this Vehicle Access to Beach Updates post has been renamed. As new information comes to hand it will be added at the top and the item will be republished so it has a new date and goes out via email to subscribers.

Our Chair, John Hewitson, had a phonecall from a Ben at Horowhenua District Council about the vehicle entrance to the beach. Ben has spoken with some local residents, and the landowner of the current (unusable) entrance and is trying to make contact with someone from Horizons Regional Council to find a way to work together.

We are still working towards a public meeting, but such a meeting would be most useful if folks from the Councils can give meaningful undertakings for action.

Some access options being batted around include:

  • More river cuts. This means cutting a channel directly out to sea before the river turns south. This has been done in the past, is extremely expensive (think around $60,000) and involves relocating fish and other wildlife that would be cut off. History shows these channels can be wiped out in as little as a week, depending on wind, rain and tide, in which case we’re back to where we started. This is definitely not a long-term solution. Update: This number has finally been tracked down. It was estimated in 1997 to cost $5,000. These days it costs around $10,000 for the cut itself.
  • Turn the south walking track off Reay Mackay Grove (number 60) into a vehicle track. The softness of the sand and the length of track would mean it would need to be contoured, surfaced and made wide enough for cars with boats to pass. That could involve the Council acquiring more land. Note: the north track off Reay Mackay Grove is totally unsuitable for many reasons.
  • Find a way to access the beach north of the river, rather than south. Not all of the land across the river is privately owned.
  • Extend the wall of deflective rocks further towards the sea. As this would reduce the available estuary area for wading birds and fish apparently conservation groups oppose this option.

Meanwhile, we’re looking for suggestions for creating a viable access. Constructive comments are welcome below.

Do check out the Horowhenua District Council’s Online Maps for useful information about Waikawa Beach properties.

See also these two previous posts: Vehicle access to the beach, update 24 April 2018 and Vehicle access to the beach, April 2018 where Comments are closed.

Vehicle access to the beach, update 24 April 2018

It seems the river changed course back in February and is not about to move seaward again. Since Ex Tropical Cyclone Gita it runs very close to the properties at the end of Manga Pirau Street, and it looks as though the vehicle entrance to the beach will not be able to be restored.

As a result the Association has approached both Horowhenua District Council and Horizons Regional Council with the aim of achieving a sustainable and usable vehicle entrance.

We’re hoping to organise a public meeting with representatives of the two Councils and other parties in order to find a resolution.

We’ll update everyone as soon as we can.

Please discuss the vehicle access with others and think about questions and comments for a public meeting. We’re looking for constructive ideas, in particular. We welcome comments below that will help move the project forward.

17 April 2018 - the tide at the vehicle entrance.
17 April 2018 — the tide at the vehicle entrance.
17 April 2018 - there's still sand behind this boundary fence.
On 17 April 2018 there’s still some sand behind this boundary fence beside the vehicle entrance.
22 April 2018 - a lot of sand has been eroded.
By 22 April 2018 a lot of sand has been eroded.
It seems this blue vehicle got stuck in the river and had to be towed away.
It seems this blue vehicle got stuck in the river and had to be towed away.

Vehicle access to the beach, April 2018

Vehicle access to our beach is a very tricky thing, hindered by coastal erosion and changeable river flows, tides and storms.

Unfortunately, back in February 2018, Ex Tropical Cyclone Gita moved the river right up to the vehicle entrance and took away swathes of the seaward side of the dunes. That left us with a metre or two of drop between the end of the access track and the water and no way for vehicles to get on to the beach.

Particularly frustrating is that the Committee has been actively trying to work with Horizons District Council and Horowhenua District Council for several years now to sort out river control, erosion prevention and vehicle access.

24 February 2018 looking towards the vehicle entrance.
24 February 2018 looking towards the vehicle entrance.

In the meantime, nothing much has changed and the vehicle entrance remains unusable.

Current vehicle entrance at March 2018
Current vehicle entrance at March 2018

Unfortunately one local took it upon himself to cut a new track through private land without consulting the owner. Several hundred metres of track now lead to a new, unauthorised, vehicle entrance that nevertheless still exits into water most of the time.

An unauthorised vehicle track to the beach.
An unauthorised vehicle track to the beach.

Our vehicle access has been through private land and is entirely at the whim of the owner who has been kind enough to let us use that corner of the property. With this latest act of appropriation though the owner has let us know they are considering revoking all access. The owners are very upset with this rogue action.

The map below has an arrow to show where the official vehicle entrance is at the end of Manga Pirau Street, and has outlined the private land, which also extends right into the sea.

Private land where the vehicle entrance is.
Private land where the vehicle entrance is.

Today brought a very high tide and strong northwest winds driving water onshore. Now that the front line of defensive dunes has been broken the tide has started to encroach further on land. This is likely to cause increased erosion. I guess the next big winter storm will tell.

The sea encroaches on land at the 'new' vehicle entrance.
The sea encroaches on land at the ‘new’ vehicle entrance.

Locals have been quite clear that they want vehicle access to the beach. Many have boats, fishing gear or whitebaiting nets to deal with. Secure and usable vehicle access is something that needs to be sorted out.

Hoons in the dunes

To the consternation and dismay of locals, on the weekend of 14 and 15 April 2018 a ute and 4 quad bikes tore up the two walking tracks to the beach off Reay Mackay Grove (vehicles are forbidden on those tracks). They also hooned around in the dunes and churned up part of a private property.

Posts removed and tire tracks on the north walking track off Reay Mackay Grove.
Posts removed and tire tracks on the north walking track off Reay Mackay Grove.

At the north track off Reay Mackay Grove they’d pulled up several posts at the beach end that hold tape to discourage people from entering the dunes and driven on sand banks, breaking them down.

Tire tracks up the sand bank.
Tire tracks up the sand bank.

At the south track they entered through private property to avoid the bollards designed to keep vehicles out, churned up the track and went off-track into the dunes where they drove around. At the beach end of the track they moved a large piece of driftwood that was in their way.

Tracks through private property (unrelated car).
Tracks through private property (unrelated car).

Note: the white car in the photo belongs to a visitor to the beach at the time the photo was taken.

At some point along the track they also got stuck, as a photo provided by a neighbour shows.

Ute stuck on the south track off Reay Mackay Grove.
Ute stuck on the south track off Reay Mackay Grove.

The beach end of the track shows how they drove vehicles on and off the walking path, leaving deep trenches in the beach.

Track end after vehicle activity.
Track end after vehicle activity.

Ultimately the ute and quad bikes departed the beach through the river.

Ute leaving the beach.
Ute leaving the beach.

Quad bikes depart the beach through the river.
Quad bikes depart the beach through the river.

Selfie break
Selfie break

Locals were disturbed by the fact that these vehicles had entered the dune area and driven round there, crossed (and damaged) private property to get into the dunes and shown reckless disregard for the environment and for other people using the tracks. One neighbour was also concerned that they had entered a different private property, at night, causing alarm.

It’s one thing to drive along the beach, with due caution around people, dogs, horses, seals and birds. It’s another to hoon around en masse in the dunes and tear up walking tracks.

If you know those responsible please have a chat to them and ask them not to return.