Protecting the coastline: our superhero sand dunes

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Protecting the coastline: our superhero sand dunes

NPDC’s system of sand dunes and other sea defences along the coastline have stood up well against the recent storms and king tides.

Damage is noticeable in spots from Urenui to Ōākura, but NPDC Manager Parks and Open Spaces Stuart Robertson says they’ve worked as designed.

“The sand dunes and rock walls are there to absorb the pounding of high seas and strong winds while protecting the land behind them. People will see that some dunes, such along Fitzroy Beach, have been really cut back by the storms – but don’t worry, they’ll grow back,” he says.

“Natural sand dunes are an excellent protection system when you have enough space to develop them and plant them out, which we’ve been doing for years with help from school students and community groups.

“We’ve got a dynamic coastline and it’s normal to see this cycle of storm damage and rebuilding.”

Beaches naturally build up over time after storms, which will see the sand dunes reform. More sand-binding plants, such as pingao and spinifex, will be planted to help hold the new sand in place.

Inspections of sea walls haven’t found significant damage even though high waves overtopped them during the storms.

Fast facts:

  • NPDC looks after 68 hectares of coastal dunes and 23 sea walls.
  • Just last week, 27 students from Manukorihi Intermediate School helped NPDC plant 800 spinifex at the Waitara Marine Park sand dunes.
  • Creation of the district’s sand dune system began with reshaping a long, low cliff-edge into a dune at Ōākura Beach in the mid-2000s.

Caption: These sand dunes at East End Beach have been cut back by the storms and king tides but will soon grow back.