The most northern access to 90 Mile Beach is being closed by the Department of Conservation, out of fear drivers could come to grief on a large drop-off.

Te Paki Stream was used as an access and exit to 90 Mile Beach (Te Oneroa a Tohe) and used to be easy to drive on, Department of Conservation supervisor — community Doug Te Wake said. But high levels of rainfall and other elements have carved out the riverbed into a large, sandy 'drain' with high banks and a large drop-off, he said.

"The banks are eight foot [2.4 metres] high and you're driving in a half-pipe or semi-drain," he said.

"Mother Nature has carved out this drain in Te Paki Stream. People are finding when they drive up the stream they're coming to an eight-foot wall, by the time they realise they have come to this wall, their vehicle is stuck," Mr Te Wake said.


Farm staff and passing drivers have pulled stuck vehicles out of the stream on numerous occasions, Mr Te Wake said.

"Farm staff go down on the farm track and pull them out but it doesn't happen all the time; we're having people stuck in the middle of nowhere."

Mr Te Wake said cars coming from Te Paki Stream Rd faced the danger of a 1.8m to 2m drop-off, which was hard to see in the dark or twilight.

"For public safety, we have to close it [the stream] until Mother Nature works with us and puts it the way it used to be," he said.

Drivers coming from south of Kaitaia, such as Aucklanders, seemed to have the most difficulty with the track, Mr Te Wake said.

"They have these big SUVs but they don't know how to drive them. They don't realise they're not amphibious or that there is such a thing as quick sand," he said.

"We don't want our visitors to the region being hurt or inconvenienced."

The Department of Conservation will put up signs later this week to warn of the closure.
Mr Te Wake said the closure would not stop people parking in a safe place and playing on the giant sand dunes the area was famous for.