Hope for safe beach access erodes

22:23, May 10 2012
NO ACCESS: Commodore Al Gould demonstrates how some enterprising locals have improvised a rope access to Buffalo Beach.
NO ACCESS: Commodore Al Gould demonstrates how some enterprising locals have improvised a rope access to Buffalo Beach.

An undermined beach access ramp had to be removed from Buffalo Beach on Monday morning, after high tides threatened to wash it out to sea.

Mercury Bay Boating Club commodore Al Gould said easterly storms and high tides had forced the club to take action to remove the heavy timber ramp, which served double duty as a launching ramp for the junior sailors and a public access to the beach.

"We have lost 4.5 metres of foreshore this season alone," Mr Gould said.

The boating club pays a peppercorn rent to Thames Coromandel District Council for the area of the clubrooms' footprint. Mr Gould said originally the club built a sand ladder to protect the dunes and small boats were walked over it to the beach. After a time the sand ladder was replaced with a walkway on stilts but it prevented people from walking at the high water mark so the club was asked to remove it, he said.

"At that stage we were in discussion with EW (now Waikato Regional Council), who promised plantings and professional contouring to address the problem," Mr Gould said.

"None of that happened. We then built the heavier ramp at the south end of the reserve but now that has gone too."


A WRC spokeswoman said staff who worked in the area said they were not aware of any commitments made by the council to undertake contouring and planting at this site. However, Mr Gould was at a meeting last Friday to discuss a new project to manage coastal erosion.

WRC and Thames Coromandel District Council have started a new project called Whitianga Coastal Futures looking at short, medium and long-term solutions to deal with erosion issues at Whitianga.

"It's a complex issue requiring different management solutions for different parts of the beach. A report on the issue is expected over the next few months and the community will be involved in deciding options."

Mr Gould said in future the centreboard fleet would have to trail their boats along the road to Brophy's Beach and launch from there.

"Since about 2004 we have been trying to talk to [the] council about protecting this part of the beach but to no avail," Mr Gould said. "It's used extensively by the general public and, in particular, surfers. As it is now, no-one can get to the beach safely. I fail to understand why the small reserve area at Brophy's Beach should come under emergency measures, when so much of the beach is left unprotected."

Waikato Times