Vehicles Illegally Using the Sandspit

Vehicles regularly drive across the sandspit at the mouth of the Waikanae River, at all time of the year. The number of such vehicles is particularly large during the whitebaiting season. Waikanae resident, John Robinson

Council Permit Confusion

By Roger Childs

Banded Dotterels. (Painting by Cushla McGaughey)

The sandspit at the mouth of the Waikanae River is an important nesting zone for birds such as the Banded Dotterels.

So what are cars doing in the area?

Kapiti Coast District Council (KCDC) says that whitebaiters can get a permit to drive a car as far as the Waikanae River Mouth. However, they add but not on any part of the Waikanae Estuary forming the Department of Conservation Scientific Reserve.

Confused? You are not alone. As every knows, you can’t get to the river mouth from Waikanae, without going into the Scientific Reserve which includes all the sandspit.

What does the permit say?

Any member of the public can apply for a permit to operate a vehicle on the beach for the purpose of gaining access for whitebaiting.

However, from Waikanae they can legally only go to edge of the reserve zone (marked with a yellow triangle), which is approximately adjacent to the southern-most beach front houses.

But as many residents have reported, they are going further on to, and across, the sandspit. Why? Basically to get close to the sites where they want to put out their whitebait nets.

Some are whitebaiting on the sandspit, which is not allowed as it’s part of the DoC reserve.

If they park north of the yellow triangle, they are in fact some distance from the legitimate whitebait zones. Parking at the southern end of Tutere St provides much better access to the best spots for catching whitebait up river.

Stop issuing permits?

Waikanae Beach (Credit Waikanae Watch)

The cars are causing damage on the sandspit and should not be there.

So it would be sensible for KCDC to stop issuing permits for any vehicles to use the beach for the following reasons:

  1. Cars are not permitted on the sandspit, because it’s in the DoC Scientific Reserve.
  2. No fishing or whitebaiting is allowed there.
  3. The car park at the south end of Tutere St is much closer than the end of the beach, to access the places on the river where whitebaiting is allowed.