A section of a proposed cycleway along the Kaikōura coast has been canned because of its potential effects on a world-famous surf break.

The NZ Transport Agency plans to build a shared-use path along the coastline, with the original plan including running by the surf break at Mangamaunu Bay, north of Kaikōura.

The right-hand, boulder-laden point break draws surfers from all around the world, and is one of 17 protected surf spots in New Zealand.

The work was part of a broader package in the area of State Highway 1 along the Kaikōura coast, south of Clarence, significantly damaged by the earthquake in November 2016.


NZTA director regional relationships Jim Harland said while their modelling was not complete, it showed there could be a "minor effect on the wave pattern at Mangamaunu in terms of waves reflecting off coastal structures".

"As a result of this modelling, and given this surf break is considered of national significance, the Transport Agency will not progress the shared-use path at Mangamaunu Point under the current consents."

Mangamaunu is one of 17 protected surf breaks in the country. Photo / Supplied
Mangamaunu is one of 17 protected surf breaks in the country. Photo / Supplied

The proposed cycleway had drawn opposition from surfers up and down the country, who were worried the shared-use path would adversely affect the protected surf break.

In an open letter to the Government, Surfbreak Protection Society research and communications officer Michael Gunson called for the work to be halted.

"Mangamaunu and surfing in general is a significant contributor to the region's tourism industry, this surf break attracts tourists nationally and internationally."

The Surfbreak Protection Society challenged the consents for the shared-use path, which were granted under emergency powers following the 2016 earthquake, in the Order in Council by Environment Canterbury, and the Kaikōura District Council.

Gunson said if the consents had gone through normal Resource Management Act processes they would be unable to adversely impact the surf break.

"We believe that under the appropriate RMA process, a cycleway could be developed in a way that benefits from community knowledge and does not destroy the unique nature of the surf break and environment."


A Givealittle page to fund a legal challenge had raised nearly $22,000, from 217 donors.

Surfbreak Protection Society Mangamaunu project lead Annie Bermingham said following NZTA's decision the committee voted to withdraw its judicial review.

"It is a good outcome, as it now has to go through the full RMA process, and have input from the whole community and tangata whenua."

Protecting the surf break was also about maintaining the area's natural beauty, Bermingham said.

"There is nowhere like it. It is beautiful, with snow-covered mountains, perfect waves and a wildness to it, untouched by human hands. Many people want to keep it that way."

Support to protect the break had come from all over the world.

"We are incredibly grateful for the amazing local, national and international support for Mangamaunu."

Bermingham said their own experts had determined the potential effects of the shared path would be "much greater than minor".

"But even though the experts disagree on the level of impacts, we all agree any adverse effects on a surf break of national significance is unacceptable."

Further work by the North Canterbury Transport Recovery Infrastructure (NCTIR) team at Mangamaunu Bay includes closing off the informal parking area, improvements to the Kiwa Rd intersection and rail crossing, and developing parking at the bay's north end.

There would be more enagement with iwi and communities in the coming months to ensure these works were refined with local knowledge and input.