Oil is still being found at Papamoa Beach a year after the container ship Rena ran aground off the coastline and caused a major spill.

Maritime New Zealand officials will today inspect the beach at Harrison's Cut after authorities received several phone calls over the weekend about splotches of oil in the sand.

The balls of oil, about the size of 5c pieces, are thought to have been driven ashore by easterly winds over the past few days.

New Plymouth man Rusty Kane, in Tauranga visiting his mother, saw reports of the oil on Facebook and decided to check the beach yesterday.


"I walked down the beach from the surf club, toward the Mount and back, and didn't see any oil ... then I looked at my feet and they were covered in it," Mr Kane said.

Splotches of the tar-like oil, found smeared across the bottom of Mr Kane's jandals, were hardly visible on the sand when the Herald visited.

"First of all, I didn't believe it. I came up to Tauranga a year ago to help clean up the oil and I'm surprised that after a year it's still here, and nobody's really talking about it," he said.

Papamoa was one of the hardest hit areas when more than 350 tonnes of heavy fuel oil spilled from the Rena after it struck the Astrolabe Reef on October 5 last year.

Salvors retrieved all but the dregs of the oil left on board and most beaches re-opened within a month.

But authorities have said that while volunteers succeeded in removing more than 1000 tonnes of oil and waste from beaches, it was likely small amounts of weathered oil would remain in the sand and around rocks.

Rough seas could also bring oil to the shore.

The spill's effect on the environment is being assessed as part of a $3 million programme aimed at restoring the Bay of Plenty to its pre-Rena state.


Results of the first indicative tests of effects on seafood are due in the next few days.