Ruth is the human interest reporter and a photographer for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Falls trespassers anger locals

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Angela Dix is fed up with people walking through her property to try to gain access to Omanawa Falls. Photo / George Novak
Angela Dix is fed up with people walking through her property to try to gain access to Omanawa Falls. Photo / George Novak

An Omanawa resident is fed up with people opening gates to her property, letting sheep out and walking around her home to gain access to the Omanawa Falls.

Angela Dix said Tauranga City Council had placed a sign at the entrance to the track that simply reads: this track is closed for your safety. She said the sign needed to say that Omanawa Falls was closed to remove any confusion.

Sightseers were trying to access the falls through her property because she has an Omanawa Falls Orchard sign outside her property.

It was about one kilometre from the old reserve entrance.

"People don't know where it is, so they are going all up our driveways to find it. Leaving our gates open so there is stock on the road - it's ridiculous."

Over summer it was not uncommon to see between 20 to 30 cars parked in the area - often in front of residents' driveways and gates, she said.

"It's a real pain. They come up our driveway because they know they can get to the falls from here. Two days ago my neighbour chased people back down his driveway.

"We have so many people up here leaving the gates open, all we want is a sign up by the road saying 'Omanawa Falls Closed' (to reduce the confusion)".

"If they put closed - it might put some people off. At least then they will know where it is."

Mrs Dix said the falls being promoted on YouTube and last year's season of the The New Zealand Bachelor had increased the number of sightseers.

"Word gets round."

Tauranga City Council parks and recreation manager Mark Smith said council was aware that people were trespassing through private property to reach Omanawa Falls.

The reserve had never been open to the public, he said.

"The public did have access to the viewing point above the falls, but this is no longer considered safe. The closure of the entire site was clearly signposted and extra gates had been put in to prevent access. We have ongoing issues with vandalism of these signs and gates."

Mr Smith said council had taken steps to prevent people from accessing the site with road signage being removed on January 22 this year. More 'closed' signs and gates had installed at the park entrance, he said.

"We are aware of people bypassing the closed gates and climbing down via 100-year-old ladders that are unsafe and not open to the public. The only time the steel door has been open recently was as a result of vandalism over Christmas. The tunnel is 100 years old and the whole site is rife with health and safety issues.

Mr Smith said there was no quick way to make the park safe for unrestricted public access.

Options looked at to provide safe access to the lake had ranged from $780,000 to $2.3m with the council planning to consider funding upgrades at the next Long Term Plan (LTP) in 2018, he said.

Omanawa Falls:

* The Tauranga City Council has said the Omanawa Falls track has never been open to public for safety reasons. The Power Station access was also not available to the public.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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