Most Port residents will be aware of the recent increase in Off-Road and 4WD activity on the sand dunes. As a result of this a number of residents have raised their concerns with Police about the unacceptable behaviour of some when using vehicles on the sand dunes.
Historically the problem used to be a lot worse with a lot of ‘out of towners’ arriving with their motor bikes and 4WD’s using it as a motor cross track/off road track. Approximately four years ago saw the placement of the highly visible signs indicating that this was not acceptable behaviour. These informative signs are purposefully positioned at every entrance to the sand dunes to ensure compliance. This initiative has been affective with most and saw a definite decrease in people driving on the sand dunes in this manner.
The public should be aware that the Port Waikato Sand Dunes is private property and belong to the Ngati Karewa, Ngati Tahinga Trust and the Department of Conservation. It is of the good will of both the Trust and DOC that they allow vehicles to drive on the sand dunes.
The public should also be aware that the dunes are a finely balanced eco-system and home to endangered birds (Banded Dotterels among others) which use the dunes as a nesting/breeding site. There are also regular beach care planting events held to prevent constant erosion of the dunes.
Police have had meetings with representatives from both the Trust and DOC. They have both indicated that they are happy with vehicles driving on the dunes as long as people respect the area. This means that driving at excessive speeds, sustained loss of traction (donuts) and driving over vegetation is not acceptable.
If an accident did occur on the sand dunes not only the driver but the land owners could face prosecution under the Health and Safety Act. Should such an incident occur there is a real chance that the land owners will ban vehicles from the area altogether.
The Trust and DOC have agreed on their recommendation that should any person be identified not respecting the area when driving Police will trespass them from the sand dunes. This will mean that the individual will not be allowed to enter onto the land by any means. Should they breach this order they could face criminal prosecution.
The Trust and DOC made it clear they wanted all people to enjoy what is such a unique and special landscape and ask the area is respected.
– Port Waikato Police and Residents via email