Love Waikawa Beach

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What we have and what we need in February 2018

Waikawa Beach is a wonderful place to live in and to visit. It offers a quiet little ‘backwater’, free from commerce and busyness. It’s literally at the end of the road, and it’s nothing like the cities and towns within an hour’s, or even 15 minutes, drive. It’s a place to wind down, live simply, enjoy nature.

Dunes reflected in water.

Waikawa Beach provides a bounty of fresh air, peace and quiet, dark skies, insects, birds, frogs and fish, along with cows, horses, alpacas, sheep, and, unfortunately, rabbits, hedgehogs, weasels, flies, wasps and low-flying aircraft. There’s a spacious and seemingly endless beach to enjoy, with good fishing and room for everyone to walk, ride their horse or bike and explore.

Horses and boat at the estuary.

Horses and boat at the estuary.

It's a place where we collect our own drinking water from rain on the roof, or perhaps from a bore, and where septic tanks, or perhaps composting toilets, deal with waste.

The Council gives us a road in and sealed streets, a few streetlights (not too many, thank goodness), and water tanks filled and ready for firefighting.

There's an aging public toilet block with changing rooms, and a footbridge over the river.

They do a bit of roadside maintenance and sometimes trim the walking tracks to the beach. There are three dog poop bag dispensers, and half a dozen rubbish bins that are emptied regularly. A handful of signs (those that survive the folks who remove them) round out our services.

As properties go, there are a couple of empty sections in the village, and a few more on the Strathnaver side, but we're pretty much full up.

We're a relaxed beach community with some funny little baches or camping spots, a few million dollar houses and a spread of everything else between. People bike down the middle of the road, avoiding the neighbours congregated for a chat, horses and quad bikes occupy the verges, and we don't have footpaths, because who needs them?

I have no data, but I suspect those who live or visit here do so exactly because we're a quiet little backwater with a hint of self-sufficiency. If they wanted all that towns and cities offer they'd go to Levin or perhaps Waitārere Beach.

Our issues

There are annoyances to life here, of course, but below are the things that I believe to be actual, meaningful issues we face.

900 am on 22 February 2018 vehicle entrance at Waikawa Beach.

9:00 am on 22 February 2018 vehicle entrance at Waikawa Beach. A crumbling cliff of sand with a drop of 1 to 2 metres into the river.

  1. Coastal erosion. Ex-TC Gita, in February 2018, took several more metres of sand from properties around the beach end of Manga Pirau Street, wiping out the seaward end of the beach entrance. The erosion is ongoing though, and is especially bad with each severe storm or river flood.
  2. Sick river water. Summer monitoring of our river by Horizons, consistently shows that our river water has elevated levels of E. Coli bacteria. This is bad for human beings and dogs who would like to enjoy recreation in, on and around the water. I have no data, but suspect the degraded river is also detrimental to whitebait, eels and fish.
  3. Access to Levin, Ōtaki and Wellington are poor. For example, in early 2018 the road to Levin was closed in both directions for several hours after an accident. There is no alternative route. There is no effective public transport. There is a single early morning train each weekday to Wellington which returns late afternoon. That’s an inflexible schedule that doesn’t suit many. The road to Wellington often suffers delays, especially around Ōtaki. This might improve once the various Expressways are complete.
  4. Access to emergency services is poor. Palmerston North and Wellington hospitals are both distant. If we have a fire it could take 20 minutes or more for the Fire Service to arrive.
  5. Electricity supply isn’t consistent, with not uncommon power cuts ranging from a few moments to a few hours each.
  6. Cellphone coverage is spotty. Parts of Waikawa Beach have problems with connections. Some people complain that their Internet connection is poor.
  7. Our public toilets need an upgrade.

Some of these issues have no easy answer. Some involve multiple parties. But these are the things we're concerned about.

See my next post: Why more houses here?