Skip to content

Cherish our wildlife

Cherish our wildlife

Updated 24 September 2019 11:54am


Have you seen our precious coastal birds?

Our region’s coastline is lucky to have so many coastal birds call it their home, many of which are threatened or at risk.

Driving on beaches creates noise and disturbance that limits their habitat for breeding and flushes them out of the area. Or worse, crushes eggs or baby chicks.

Studies have directly linked sudden decreases in newborn birds on beaches with increased vehicles in the area. 

We’re scaring our birds away.

Threatened or at risk coastal birds in our region include the variable oystercatcher, the banded dotterel, the sooty shearwater, known as the tītī or the muttonbird, the black shag, the white-fronted tern, the New Zealand pipit, and the red-billed gull. Without our protection these birds (particulary the oystercatcher and dotterel) are at risk of extinction. 


A wealth of life beneath our feet

There are many fragile shellfish, worms and other bugs beneath the surface of our beaches.

The compacted sand nearer to the water (the intertidal zone) is home to the tuatua or New Zealand clam.

Vehicle use on beaches is directly linked to increased deaths of adult and young shellfish, and other invertebrates.

These creatures and ecosystems in the soft and hard sand are important for filtering water, aerating the sand, removing organic material, recycling nutrients, and as a food source for fish and birds.


Habitat torn apart

Coastal plants bind the sand, building dunes that provide habitat for threatened species and create physical barriers to storm surges that would otherwise damage our infrastructure.

The stresses of turning wheels can crush plants and break apart root systems. This kills the plants holding our dunes together and promotes erosion. Over time our dunes reduce and vital habitat is lost.

“The use of vehicles on coastal dunes has been demonstrated to be highly destructive to both flora and fauna, often with the first vehicle passage causing the most damage.”

– Gary Stephenson, published by Department of Conservation, 1999

What you can do
  • Before driving to the beach check the car parking options
  • Consider how to carry your equipment from your car to the beach and whether you need any more bags or chilly bins before you leave
  • Ask yourself when you arrive – do I really need to drive on the beach?
  • If there’s really a need to drive onto the beach, check the areas where this is a permitted activity on this map and be sure to use the correct access road