Vehicle access to Muriwai Beach will be limited from the beginning of February until after Easter 2020 to reduce fire risk.
A gate has been installed on Coast Road and will be closed in the evenings from Wednesday 5 February to Tuesday 14 April 2020 between the hours of 10pm and 5am.
Stephen Bell, Principal Ranger of Auckland Council’s western regional parks, says limiting overnight vehicle access to the beach between those hours is a safety precaution.
“Muriwai Beach borders a large pine forest so due to the dry conditions this summer and a prevailing onshore wind, we need to be proactive in reducing any fire risk to the area.”
Vehicle access to Muriwai Beach is managed by a permit process.
Last year’s limited vehicle access during the Guy Fawkes period was well supported, says Stephen. With only one recorded instance of a group of people wanting to access the beach to trail ride at 3.45am.
There were no reports of illegal camping and one unauthorised fire was recorded in the regional park in that time.
“During the Christmas and New Year period, access was not restricted and unfortunately the difference showed.
“At least eight fires were recorded in the back-dune area of the regional park and further north along the beach on New Year’s Eve alone.
“People do not seem to realise the risk they are creating to the sensitive dune environment, the forest, themselves and the emergency personnel who have to respond,” says Stephen.
Drivers on the beach are also asked to take care when driving and are reminded that vehicles are prohibited in the dunes and back-dunes.
Stephen says the back-dune area is a pretty special place with some unique and nationally threatened species.
“We don’t want rare or threatened species to suffer habitat loss or be injured through driver’s actions.
“We know people also enjoy fishing along the beach before or after work, so we have timed the after-hours closures to allow them to continue to take advantage of those key times around dusk and dawn.
“Ultimately, we want people to enjoy using the beach safely, so the vehicle closure period is designed to allow people to fish and then get off the beach in time,” says Stephen.