Holiday weekend travellers warned to play it safe on beach drive

5:45 pm on 20 October 2023
A sign at Glinks Gully, a popular vehicle access to Ripiro Beach, spells out expectations for beach users.

A sign at Glinks Gully, a popular vehicle access to Ripiro Beach, spells out expectations for beach users. Photo: Supplied

Motorists hitting New Zealand's longest drivable beach will be reminded of the rules before they hit the sand this long weekend.

With other beaches around Auckland and Northland closed by cyclone damage or clamping down on bad behaviour, concerns are mounting in the Kaipara about soaring numbers of vehicles flocking to Ripiro Beach, on the west coast south of Dargaville.

Community and council representatives will be stationed at Baylys Beach and Glinks Gully, two popular access points, to talk to beach motorists all day Saturday.

They will also be handing out free sausages to make their message more palatable.

Kaipara Mayor Craig Jepson said there was huge community support for better behaviour on the 107km-long Ripiro Beach.

Public concerns included excessive speeds, rubbish, damage to fragile dune systems and threats to wildlife posed by off-road driving.

Signs spelling out the rules and guidelines have also been put up at beach entry points.

Jepson said the initiative was developed in response to a notice of motion passed by councillors outlining issues around beach behaviour.

"Dangerous driving, dumped rubbish, and threats to native wildlife have had national attention and there is huge community interest and support for behaviour change."

Kaipara District Council chief executive Jason Marris hoped education would not only change the behaviour of beach users, but also empower others to report incidents.

The Kaipara District Council set up the Ripiro Beach Management Plan project in 2021 aiming to make the stretch of coast safer for all.

That had since evolved into a working group bringing together community organisations and central and local government agencies.

The group was made up of representatives from the local community, Department of Conservation, Fire and Emergency NZ, Kaipara District Council, Kauri Coast 4WD Club, Northland Regional Council, Police, Red Hill MotoX Club, Te Roroa and Te Uri o Hau.

To report concerns about behaviour on Ripiro Beach, locals can contact Kaipara District Council, Department of Conservation, Northland Regional Council or police.

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