Vehicles and pedestrians don't mix, especially on the beach

Safety threat: Vehicles on beaches also pose a threat to public safety as well as threatened native birds.

Waikawa Beach has been largely free of vehicles so far this summer, with legal local access temporarily blocked off. The only vehicles that have turned up have been largely locals, using illegally created access points, and even going to the extent of forging their own track along the pedestrian-only south track off Reay Mackay Grove.

The petulant destruction caused by that foolishness has certainly helped sway public opinion against allowing vehicles to access the beach at all. Then there’s this Listener article (paywalled), Inform your opinion: Should you drive along the beach this summer? - NZ Herald By Chelsea McGaw, 04 January, 2024:

Vehicles on beaches also pose a threat to public safety. Surf Life Saving New Zealand recorded 228 incidents involving vehicles on beaches from 2018 to mid-2023, with more than a dozen of these resulting in fatalities.

Sadly, at the time of writing on 21 January 2024 we can add another fatality:

One person has died after a vehicle rolled on Muriwai Beach in west Auckland.

Police were alerted to the incident at 2.40pm on Sunday [21 January 2024].

Two people also sustained serious injuries as a result of the car rolling. …

Auckland Council had closed Muriwai Beach to vehicles during the summer peak season from 29 December 2023 to 15 January 2024.

Source: Police, fire service, rescue helicopter rush to incident on Muriwai Beach | RNZ News.

Back in November 2021 [corrected: I accidentally wrote 2022] a handful of petitioners gifted our community with the opportunity to ask Horowhenua District Council to close direct vehicle access to Waikawa Beach.

Instead of fearing for our safety and the safety of our families and dogs when we set out to enjoy a beach walk, we could seed a vision of a ‘sanctuary’ beach, a Quiet Beach where motor vehicles don’t pose a threat because they simply aren’t there. Waikawa would be the very special place we know it could be, if only it were allowed to be. Imagine: no need to fly overseas to walk undisturbed by motor vehicles on a beach. We could do that right here instead! Let’s make people the priority on our beach.

And if the HDC really want to spend money on a beach access, then we could ask for the Manga Pirau Street track to be closed to all vehicles, but developed and improved for horse access and first-class access for pedestrians, especially those using mobility aids, or wheeling kids in buggies or fishing gear in handcarts.

We can ask HDC to help create a beach that stands out from all the others. A gem among beaches as it treasures people, the environment, the peace and quiet and serenity of a recreation place, free from vehicles.

Have your say at: Waikawa Beach Vehicle Access | Let’s Kōrero Horowhenua.

Waikawa News @WaikawaNews