Matapouri sand replenishment

  • Project typeSand Replenishment
  • Project value$421,000
  • Project scheduleMay to July 2021
  • Contractor nameUnited Civil Construction
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Council is giving nature a helping hand at Matapōuri Beach, taking up to 15,000m3 of sand that has become trapped in the estuary back to the beach.

This copies the estuary’s natural sand flushing process, which has been impacted by development, including the building of bridges across the estuary.

The majority of the sand will be placed in an erosion hot spot (next to Te Wairoa Street) and over time will disperse along the beach naturally.

This work will create more useable beach area when the tide is in and will protect public and private property against coastal erosion. It should last for about 10 to 15 years, depending on how many big storms happen in that time.

Beach and estuary access will be limited during the works. Boats can be launched from the Tutukaka Marina.

Background

Coastal erosion is a natural process that has always happened at Matapōuri Beach. Before the area was developed, storms and floods would flush sand out of the estuary and it would settle along the shore of the bay and there was a natural equilibrium between the estuary and the beach.

When bridges were built across Te Wairoa and Parangarau Streams, they narrowed the stream channels and slowed the streams, so less sand was flushed back into the bay to wash up along the beach. Sand started clogging up the estuary, and the usable area of beach at high tide started to lessen.

Estuary ecology

To protect the ecology, the estuary will be surveyed. Important sea grass areas will be pegged off and there will be no sand taken from these areas. The work is also being done between May and July to avoid the bird nesting season, and Te Whanau ā Rangiwhakaahu Hapū will be closely monitoring the works throughout the project.

Plants and pedestrian access

When the sand replenishment is complete the newly formed dunes will be planted with native dune plants, pingao and spinifex, to hold sand and help build the dune following storms. Northland Regional Council will be inviting the community to take part. The new sand dunes will then be fenced off. Two new public access structures will be constructed, one off Te Wairoa Street and another half way along the sandspit, and an existing one near Morrison Road will be repaired. The improved access and fencing will help to protect the sand dunes.

The resource consent process

Whangarei District Council applied to Northland Regional Council (NRC) for a resource consent to carry out these sand replenishment works and the application was publicly notified. The consent was granted in 2019 by an independent commissioner on behalf of the NRC.