Wayne Thompson

Wayne Thompson is a NZ Herald reporter.

Council backs new access to Karekare Beach

Injured people were ferried to the roadside carpark in an inflatable boat and visitors had to make stream crossings or plod through a muddy swamp. Photo / Dean Purcell
Injured people were ferried to the roadside carpark in an inflatable boat and visitors had to make stream crossings or plod through a muddy swamp. Photo / Dean Purcell

A proposal for improved public and lifeguard access to Karekare Beach on Auckland's west coast is backed by Auckland Council's parks, sport and recreation committee.

It gave approval for further work on a concept design for a bridge, causeway and boardwalk to the surf life saving club.

The work will give a more precise cost estimate for the project than the present indication of $650,000 to $1.1 million.

The project has to be considered in the council's 2015-2025 long term budget debate.
Presently, the 70,000 visitors a year to the beach and club members wade through a deepening lagoon to reach the part of the beach near the clubhouse.

Club chairman Stephen Pye told the committee that the difficult access meant members had to endure the worst conditions of any surf club in the country.

The club was losing volunteers and without their service the council would face a $300,000 a year cost for paid lifeguards.

Last summer, club members made eight rescues and made 19 in the previous season.

Regional parks operations manager Richard Hollier said the key consideration for the project was getting ongoing public access to the beach across a flood plain.

The proposal would sit with the environment rather than be imposed on but it must be accepted that the causeway would still be subjected to flooding at times.

Mr Hollier said the concept design would be presented to all groups with an interest in the beach.

- NZ Herald

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