Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby says he is thrilled that Maritime New Zealand is lifting the restricted access notices for almost the entire stretch of coast from 6am tomorrow.
"This is the news we have all been waiting for'', said Mayor Crosby. "The beaches and coastline are the backbone of our economic livelihood over the summer and we want all holiday makers, event operators and locals to know that this means we are now officially back in business''.
Note: the Rahui imposed by local iwi remains in place - shellfish, crayfish, crabs, kina and seaweed should not be collected and eaten until further notice.
Bay of Plenty tourism operators are looking forward to the summer season with the news that virtually all beaches will be open to the public on Wednesday, says Glenn Ormsby, Tourism Bay of Plenty general manager.
"This is just fantastic news. This announcement will provide assurance to the thousands of people who come to enjoy our region over the summer.''
"We applaud the passion and commitment our community has demonstrated to get these beaches open again and we'd like to thank the thousands of people who volunteered their time to painstakingly clean-up. This is the first time ever volunteers have been used to assist with the clean-up of an oil spill - our beaches reflect their dedication and commitment,'' says Mr Ormsby.
"The announcement that our beaches are open signals the start of our recovery,' said the Chief Executive of Tauranga's Chamber of Commerce Max Mason.
"However the image of our pristine beach and marine environment has been dealt a serious blow, and we need the community's help to restore it. Many local jobs and livelihoods depend on our visitors. In the same spirit as thousands of volunteers flocked to help with the beach clean up, we now need everybody to tell the world we are clean and open for business. Please show and tell your friends and families world wide.''
Wayne Werder, Chief Executive of Sport Bay of Plenty, agreed with the idea that the good news should be spread far and wide about the beaches now being open. "The beaches are such a significant recreational playground for the people of the Bay of Plenty,'' he said.
"We are heading into the summer season where the beaches are used for a number of sporting and recreational type events, so this `open message' will certainly assist the various event organisers with their planning.''
The only area where the closure remains in place for now is the area outside the Papamoa Surf Club and Maketu.
While the beaches are now open people are still advised that there may be some residual clean-up required for some time.
Mayor Stuart reminded people to be aware that the beach quality is not the same as it was before Rena grounded. "Tar balls will continue to resurface in the water and on the beaches for at least the next few months.'' He advises people to please take care when using all beaches.
Maritime NZ will continue to assess, clean and re-clean affected areas of shoreline. Some areas may be cordoned off at times to allow Maritime NZ to continue clean up operations.
More information is available on the Maritime NZ and Tauranga City Council websites _ www.martimenz.govt.nz or www.tauranga.govt.nz.
Popular beach areas are being specially adopted by volunteers for regular clean ups at: Pilot Bay, Mount Main Beach, Tay Street, Omanu and Arataki.
Papamoa beach is still the focus for significant clean-up and will be included adopted at a later date.
This situation is likely to be ongoing through summer. `Operation Beach Clean' Volunteers will continue to play a big part in restoring our beaches.
The navigational safety exclusion zone remains in place, therefore boat ramps - Papamoa East, Bell Road and Maketu _ that border this zone remain unavailable for boaties to use.