Public access for Kaiwharawhara beach?

CHRIS HYDE
Last updated 15:53 20/08/2012
Kaiwharawhara beach

Kaiwharawhara's secret: This unnamed beach could be opened to the public if pressure groups get their way.

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The Wellingtonian

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A nameless Wellington beach that only boat owners can safely reach could be opened to the public.

The beach, on the northern side of Kaiwharawhara Point, is a by-product of the port reclamation of the point 40 years ago.

It faces north and has shallow and safe waters for swimming.

The Wellington Urban Motorway, the railway line, and other transport infrastructure surrounding the beach have made it difficult and dangerous to reach.

The beach land is owned by the Conservation Department, but access is discouraged by Centreport, which owns the reclaimed land.

No solution has ever been reached to enable safe public access to the beach but Wellington Civic Trust chairperson Alan Smith said this was "fairly likely" to change.

Mr Smith said potential changes to the northern railway link, as well as the push for the Great Harbour Way walking track, presented an opportunity to open up the beach.

He said access to the beach should be formalised to allow people like cyclists, walkers and fishers to use it.

"This is not just fuzzy feel-good stuff. It's not just green-wash."

Mr Smith said enhancing the beauty of the entry to Wellington was important and the beach was a big part of that.

Ngaio Progressive Association chairperson Viv Chapple said residents in the area would be thrilled if there was pedestrian access to the beach.

"It's our very own beach in the harbour without stuff [sand] imported from Takaka."

It was a wonderful asset that should be used, she said.

"It's one of those really good ideas whose time has come. If we don't seize it now, while everyone's talking to each other, it'll never happen."

Centreport spokeswoman Kylie Law said the port did not provide an access path, but did not prevent use of the beach.

However, she said that because of the adjoining port facilities, safety was a concern.

Centreport had not formalised future plans for the reclaimed land, but Ms Law said it was unlikely the current access situation would change.

Interislander general manager Thomas Davis said KiwiRail was also participating in a review of options for the area.

"We are happy to look at options but only if they don't compromise safety for both the rail corridor and ferry terminal."

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