Tauranga City Council won't be policing nude sunbathers any time soon, but if you want to use an old pallet for a beach bonfire, think again.

The council has updated its Beaches Bylaw, a set of rules for what people can and can't do on the city's world-famous beaches, for the first time since 2007.

Councillor Leeanne Brown said the council had tried to strike the right balance with the bylaw.

"We're not trying to be the fun police, we just want to make a better environment for everybody."


The updated bylaw included new rules for vehicles, longlines, fires, drones and structures on the beach.

Not included were any restrictions on nudity on the beach, which in circumstances that constituted "lewd behaviour" was a matter for the police.

Dogs on the beach were also not covered, with public views to be heard as part of Dog Control Bylaw discussions in the coming months.

Rather than ban bonfires entirely, the council added a new rule that only "wholly combustible materials" could be burned on the beach.

Councillor Larry Baldock said that meant people could not burn things like pallets that might leave nails or staples behind that might be "injurious to children".

Using fencing and furniture for a bonfire would not be allowed under the new bylaw due to the nails. File photo
Using fencing and furniture for a bonfire would not be allowed under the new bylaw due to the nails. File photo

Longliners and kontiki users also faced new restrictions, including a blanket ban between the hours of 10am and 5pm from December 15 to February 15 each year.

Pāpāmoa East surfcaster and occasional kontiki user Wayne Owen said he thought the ban would be largely ignored at the Te Tumu end of Pāpāmoa Beach.

"From the end of the houses on, [towards Kaituna] there's nobody there. It's a hard call to have set times that apply everywhere."


He had no issue with the new ban on longlining within 300m of flagged lifeguard areas, or rules restricting all-terrain vehicle use of Pāpāmoa Beach to east of the access point on Karewa Parade, or the requirement for the vehicles to have a permit and only be used for fishing.

The fine for breaching vehicle safety rules on the beach was reduced from $750 to $150.

The new bylaw also clarified a rule around drones, excluding them from a ban on aircraft and allowing them to be flown on the beach within Civil Aviation Authority rules.

Pāpāmoa resident of 24 years Bernard Satherley, who runs the Kiwi Droneography Facebook and Instagram pages with his daughter Chelsea, 18, said it was "fantastic news".

"There are very limited places you can use a drone so it's good they are making it available. The beach is a lovely place to get great footage."

Watching the seagulls flying during sunset at Papamoa Beach NZ

Watching the seagulls flying during sunset at Papamoa Beach NZ. This has got to be the most relaxing minute you'll ever spend. As the sun sets the Temperature is 12 degrees celsius (53F) on a beautiful winters day. We love living here, this is our home. filmed on DJI Mavic Pro in 4K

Posted by Kiwi Droneography on Thursday, 2 August 2018

Common sense still applied, and Satherley said they avoided popular beach spots and were careful not to fly the drone over people or hover it near them, mostly flying at sunset or sunrise when the beach was quieter.

The council also specified that all structures on the beach required council permission.

As one Bay of Plenty Times reader noted on Facebook, it was good to see clarification from the council that sandcastles were not defined as structures and could be built without seeking permission.

New rules for beaches

Some of the new rules in the updated Beaches Bylaw 2018, which will become law on December 1.

- All-terrain vehicles: only allowed for fishing and only between 105 Karewa Parade and Kaituna Cut
- Longlines/kontiki: banned between 10am and 5pm over peak summer, and never within 300m of flags
- Fires: wholly combustible materials only, below high tide mark between 5am and 10pm, under 1 metre diameter
- Drones: allowed within Civil Aviation Authority rules.

- Source: Tauranga City Council