Skip to content

Port Waikato erosion

Stay informed. Subscribe to our Port Waikato newsletter.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Complete the form linked above, provide your details and select Port Waikato as your location to subscribe to this newsletter.

Update Friday 19 July 2024

With high risk of further strong tidal activity over coming weeks, we’re using this web page and our Port Waikato  email to send out regular updates and guidance for Port Waikato residents.  

Upcoming strong tides

Metservice and Waikato Regional Council are giving us detailed analysis of upcoming weather concerns and we have been advised of these likely high-risk periods:

  • 24 and 25 July – severe weather
  • 21 and 22 August – severe weather with king tides expected
  • 19 to 22 September – king tides expected

Beach access

Access to Sunset beach from council reserves is open but will be closed if there is risk from debris. If any further beachfront property are undermined or at risk, the beach access points will be closed for public safety.

Car park at Sunset Beach Surf Club

The latest erosion event removed the front edge of the car park, which remains cordoned off and monitored. During weather events over the coming weeks, it is likely we will have to close the car park at high-risk times for public safety.

Beach ramp

There may be high risk of this washing away with a concentrated period of weather events.  We advise people to always take extra care when using the ramp.

Public toilet

The public toilet building is currently a safe distance from erosion risk, but the holding tank will be cleaned out in advance of expected bad weather, as a precaution.

Private properties on Ocean View Road

The immediate area of concern is at the Surf Club end of the beach, where seasonal tides are raising the risk of rapid erosion. Our staff are working with affected homeowners to develop plans to safely move or remove any property or structures that may become unstable. When structures pose public safety or environmental hazards, they may require mandatory removal.

Port Project beach structure

Loose logs have been removed and we are waiting on technical feedback about the wooden structure built by The Port Project. Our joint priority remains safety to the community when using the beach. Staff met with Port Project coordinators at the Ministry of Social Development to make sure we collaborate effectively around plans for future work from this initiative.

Community-led support

We have been working with members of the community to develop a Community Response Plan to have both a local volunteer group and the resources in place that we can call on in an emergency for community-led support.

The science behind the latest erosion

 We know that the conditions around this part of the coast are constantly changing and the experts’ analysis points to there being a change to levels in the sand bar under water. This results in increased wave energy being able to reach shore where the current erosion is taking place. This means that normal waves are having an impact on erosion, leading to increased concern about the upcoming high and king tides.

Why not a sea wall?

Over many years, there have been calls for a sea wall to act as a barrier to protect Sunset Beach. We received guidance in 2019 that the likely cost for this was a minimum of $50m, which puts it financially out of reach for our ratepayers. It was also established that there was a significant risk of it not working.

A 2021 eCoast report also said that the placement of a hard structure at Sunset Beach (e.g groynes, rock revetment, sea wall, breakwater etc) is not recommended for the following reasons:

  • Potential long-term loss of sandy beach.
  • It would have high visual impact and large footprint.
  • A hard structure would push the erosion further along the beach to where it would not be protected and possibly increase erosion at this point.
  • Decreased beach accessibility.
  • Potential health and safety concerns for beach users.
  • Structure influencing nearshore coastal dynamics.

Temporary measures

A resource consent has been issued that allows residents to push sand from the beach up to the edge of their properties. This is, of course, a short-term measure but one that can be effective during one-off events or to limit damage.

Frequency and volume limits are in place, with further details to come.

Staying up-to-date

Ongoing updates will be sent through this email newsletter and on our website, so please encourage others to subscribe. Updates are also shared on the locally-run Facebook group and with Port Report. Not everyone is connected, of course, so please help keep neighbours up-to-date where you can.

Update Friday 12 July  
  • As work has now been completed to remove potential debris, access to the beach is now open. Please continue to be careful around the affected areas. 
  • The affected house has been removed, with final clean-up well underway. 
  • A second property has been moved back from the beachfront and any other at-risk structures are being removed or relocated. 
  • The bump stops (the strips at the front of car parking spaces) have been removed from the affected areas of the Surf Club car park, along with other debris. 
  • The car park remains partially closed and is being monitored. 
  • With further high tides expected, Council is monitoring future tidal conditions alongside Waikato Regional Council, to determine what actions may be needed. 
  • In addition to supporting homeowners work through the latest incident, staff will be meeting with the new Port Waikato Community Response Group regarding long-term planning to give an overview of the District Wide Resilience Project. The intention is to build on previous Port Waikato Resilience Project work, while discussing options for the settlement at Port Waikato with the wider community and mana whenua.  

This Factsheet gives a summary of the erosion events of the last few days and activities and plans underway. 

Update Wednesday 10 July 2024

  • The affected house is currently being removed.
  • Our staff are closely monitoring properties to assess their risk of instability and understand what plans they may have in place for their properties.
  • While these properties remain at risk, people are advised to stay off the beach, particularly around the affected areas.
  • The car park remains partially closed and is being regularly inspected for the risk of further erosion.
  • The weather is expected to be stable over the next few days but, with further seasonal tides expected in around two weeks, staff are continuing to monitor and assess the situation.

Update Monday 8 July 2024
Due to increased erosion at Sunset Beach in Port Waikato after recent seasonal tides, Waikato District Council is temporarily closing access to the beach, except for emergency vehicles, until potential hazards can be removed.

The soil supporting the foundations of a property is being eroded away, putting it at risk of it falling onto the beach below.

Work is underway to safely remove the building.

“The safety of our community and visitors is our top priority, so we ask that people stay off the beach until further notice,” says Mayor Jacqui Church. “We know erosion and it’s impacts have been major concerns for Port Waikato individuals and families over the last decade and we’re working with the community to plan for the future.”

The car park at the Sunset Beach Surf Club is also partially cordoned off due to erosion concerns and is being monitored closely. We advise vehicles avoid the car park if possible. 

Council will be monitoring and provide updates on this webpage.