A Whangārei community is taking safety into its own hands after years of watching the local road becoming an informal race track.
Pataua South residents have installed two speed bumps - without council permission - on their main road to stop speeding visitors and illegal racers alike and say they now feel much safer because the number of dangerous speeders has reduced.
"Thank goodness, we're finally able to sleep again," Kerry Hannam from the Pataua Area Residents and Ratepayers Association said.
The residents say there are two kinds of fast drivers on Pataua South Rd – the daytime visitors who come from a 100km/h speed zone to a 50km/h zone and don't slow right down and the night-time drivers who race each other down the road, do wheelies and burnouts or ride on top of bonnets.
"This used to be a sleepy hollow, but we've become quite busy over the years, especially in summer," Hannam said.
Apart from the noise disruption, the small community is concerned that someone will eventually get seriously injured – especially kids who play and cycle along the road.
Since Pataua South Rd ends with a sharp bend that leads onto the beachside carpark, the residents have witnessed cars driving off the edge, down the boat ramp and into the water.
Hannam said although Pataua South was under the satellite of the Whangārei district, their community was often forgotten about and infrastructure services often didn't reach that far out.
"We are vulnerable out here. That's why we have taken safety control in our hands."
She said they had put a lot of research into speed bumps before installing them to ensure they follow road codes and are suitable for vehicles that pull boat trailers.
However, according to district laws, more steps are required before speed bumps can be installed.
The Whangārei District Council says speed reduction or calming measures had to go through public consultation to take into account the wishes of the whole community because not everyone backs the community's initiative.
Whangārei Heads Ward councillor Greg Innes said he had a productive meeting with Pataua South residents and members of the residents association, and a public meeting would be organised soon.
"The current situation of high speeding at night, which Pataua is experiencing, is acknowledged, but the solution requires a wider approach to village pedestrian and cycle safety as part of the ongoing development of Pataua."
Innes said adjusting speed limits, signage and an urban design approach for a slow street would be on the table for discussion.
WDC roading manager Jeff Devine said the council would be reviewing speed bylaws for Whangārei Heads Rd, including Pataua South Rd, as part of the Regional Speed Limit Review.
If it was up to the Pataua South residents, their speed bumps would stay, since they are professionally installed and paid for already, they say. Council could add suitable signage.
But Devine explained: "The speed bumps installed by the residents on Pataua South Rd are only appropriate for very slow speed environments such as carparks, and are not appropriate for public roads due to traffic safety issues."
He said the council had received complaints from people about the speed bumps.
As part of the consultation, WDC will determine if most of the community agrees to have speed bumps, their physical location, and the type of speed bump.
Depending on the level of community support, the speed bumps could be installed by Christmas.
In the meantime, the community's speed bumps will have to go.