John and Helen McGregor are about to start their eighth summer as Summer Safe Ambassadors at Whangārei Falls this weekend.

"It's helping people, it's keeping the carpark safe, keeping the cars flowing," Helen said when asked why they keep coming back.

But it's also about the people they meet from all over the world.

"On average we would have 20 nations each day," John said.


The couple belong to Tikipunga Community Trust, also known as TikiPride, who volunteer at the popular tourist attraction as part of the Summer Safe Carpark programme.

The programme is about to kick off for the ninth year in a row.

Ambassadors will keep parking areas at nine of the most popular spots in Whangārei safe for tourists this summer while handing out useful information.

The ambassadors guard cars, give directions, supply sunscreen and tsunami education, safety and security hints.

The carparks which will be monitored this summer are Abbey Caves, Parihaka, AH Reed, Whangārei Falls, Ocean Beach, Whale Bay, Ruakaka, Waipu and Uretiti.

The programme's aim is to prevent theft and crime and increase the public's awareness of ways to keep their property safe, but it is proving to be more than that.

Whangārei District Council community safety officer David Palmer said the volunteers build a real sense of community.

"Our volunteer ambassadors are friendly, knowledgeable, keen to help and to see everyone have a good, safe summer, and people respond really well," Palmer said.


"We have had no thefts from cars during patrols by the volunteers over the last eight years and we plan to keep that great record going this season, which will start on December 1 and end on April 22 [Easter Monday]."

Volunteers from the Blue Club (police volunteers), Whangārei Navy Cadets, Onerahi Lions Club, Hatea Lions Club, TikiPride, Whangārei Heads Volunteer Surf Lifesaving Patrol, Tutukaka Coast Promotions Society, Ngunguru School Year 7 and 8, Ruakaka Surf Life Saving Patrol, Camp Waipu Cove and Bream Bay Beach Ambassadors will be involved with the programme this summer.

The volunteers are typically on duty on weekends and public holidays.

"This summer we are adding another six days to take us to 50, covering 21 weekends and eight statutory holidays," Palmer said.

The volunteers attended a pre-season briefing last week and are ready to launch into action this summer.