New beach accessways protecting at-risk dunes

Regular beach walkers may have noticed a bit of movement in the dunes near the airstrip recently.

New accessways to the beach have been installed to reduce the damage to the dunes and hundreds of dune plants have been introduced to newly formed dunes.

This collaborative project is part of the wider Waikato Coastcare programme which aims to protect and restore the West Coast’s precious coastal areas. Coastcare work in the Waikato is undertaken in partnership with iwi, local community, Waikato District Council, Department of Conservation and Waikato Regional Council.

Coastcare West Coast coordinator Stacey Hill says the work by the Raglan airstrip is designed with both people and the environment in mind.

“This isn’t about restricting people from the beach. We still want people to connect to their coast and enjoy this environment. The work will allow areas that have suffered from lots of foot traffic to recover.”

In addition to the new walkways and plantings, Waikato District Council is installing more permanent fencing and signage to direct beach visitors to the new accessways.

“It’s super important that we all stick to these tracks. Although coastal plants are tough enough to live in this harsh environment, they’re also very fragile and can be destroyed by foot traffic – just walking on spinifex can kill it,” she says.

This season’s restoration works have seen over 7500 coastal plants put in around Raglan by Te Uku School, NZ Post, Raglan Coconut Yogurt and amazing individual volunteers from the community.

Stacey says the plantings are designed to stabilise loose foredune areas and recreate native coastal ecosystems through backdune plantings of native grasses, shrubs and trees.

Janine Jackson