Horse riders upset with a proposal to ban horses from Tuapiro Point descended on the Western Bay District Council offices today.
Riders on eight horses and three ponies have ridden along Cameron Rd from the Tauranga Racecourse to the council offices on Barkes Corner.
Led by Recreational Horse Riders BOP, spokeswoman Lisa Coulson said they were delivering a petition against the ban signed by nearly 2000 people.
The council wants to remove the area north of Katikati as a permitted site for horse riding.
Recreational riders say the change to the council's Reserves and Facilities Bylaw would leave them with no suitable safe alternative place to take their horses in the area.
Many riders and other members of the community who enjoyed seeing horses at Tuapiro had made submissions to the draft bylaw. Some would appear in person at a hearing of submissions in Katikati on Monday.
The current bylaw identified where horses were allowed and required the removal of horse droppings to protect Tuapiro's significant cultural and ecological values.
The council had received about 600 submissions to its 2018 draft bylaw, including petitions. Ninety-six per cent opposed the draft bylaw and more than 100 indicated they wished to speak to their submission.
Western Bay of Plenty District Council policy planning and regulatory services group manager Rachael Davie said in June the council had decided to review the bylaw because of the damage horses were causing to the reserve.
Hapu reported horses riding through an area of pines and a wahi tapu site. Concerns had also been raised about the "potential" trampling effect on shellfish and the saltmarsh on the western side of the spit.
A group of concerned horse riders from Tauranga and Western Bay had set up a Facebook group called Recreational Horse Riders BOP.
A public meeting in Katikati in May saw recreational riders complain that signage at Tuapiro Point and information about riding areas was confusing. Coulson said riders had misunderstood the permitted riding areas.
The council was due to make its final decision on September 27.