People driving on Northland's west coast playgrounds of Ripiro Beach and the Pouto Peninsula dune lakes system are being urged to take care this summer to keep themselves, others and the coastal ecosystem safe.
The Department of Conservation (DoC), local iwi Te Uri O Hau and Te Roroa are asking the public coming into the Christmas season to take care if driving on Ripiro Beach as well as within the Pouto Peninsula dune lakes system.
Visitors are expected to flock to the area once the border with Auckland comes down on December 15.
"Kaipara is about to experience an influx of visitors over summer" DoC Kauri Coast operations manager Stephen Soole said.
"The sand dunes and lake system in this area are some of the most extensive and least modified in the country.''
Te Uri O Hau and Te Roroa are both asking for care and caution if visiting any of these areas over summer.
"Sand dune systems are natural habitats for many native species. In their natural state, they protect the land, ecosystems and property from erosion and storms" Snow Tane,
general manager for Te Roroa Commercial Development said.
DoC is looking at undertaking beach patrols this summer primarily to educate and advocate for responsible use of these taonga.
"Dune lakes are under threat from amongst other things, Hornwort, the invasive aquatic weed," Fiona Kemp, environs manager for Te Uri O Hau, said.
To report any conservation emergencies, people can call 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468)
The beach has been the scene of a number of deaths and serious injuries over the years.
Tauranga 13-year-old Daisy Fernandez died after being struck by an unregistered motorbike on Ripiro's Glinks Gully on December 31, 2007, one of several deaths on the beach.
■ Ripiro Beach is a sandy stretch on the west coast of Northland, extending from Pouto Peninsula in the south to Maunganui Bluff in the north.
At 66 miles (107km) long it is the longest driveable beach in New Zealand, longer than the more famous, but erroneously named Ninety Mile Beach further north.
It is straight, and backed by high sand dunes for most of this length. The beach incorporates the coastal settlements of Baylys Beach, Glinks Gully and Omamari.
Ripiro Beach is the site of numerous shipwrecks, with 110 confirmed shipwrecks recorded between 1839 and 1994, and 17 more unconfirmed.
Pouto Sand Dunes have been identified as being an excellent, unmodified example of the North Kaipara Head active dunelands system. The feature is classified as a moderately well defined landform of scientific/educational and scenic value.
The Pouto dune system is identified as being of extremely high national and international importance, representing the best remaining example of a large, relatively unmodified sand dune system.
It supports an impressive range of threatened plant and animal species, including a nationally and regionally important population of northern New Zealand dotterel and significant populations of grey duck.