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  • Town/City: Tauranga
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Ninety Mile Beach could see car donut ban imposed for safety and to protect environment

The dangerous free-for-all of careless driving on one of New Zealand’s most iconic beaches could be set to come to an end.

A management plan being written for Northland’s Te Oneroa-?-T?he/Ninety Mile Beach would look to ban cars “doing donuts” and other anti-social driving on the beach.

Te Oneroa-?-T?he Board chair Haami Piripi, from Te Rarawa iwi, said the plan was about bringing order to the beach.

“There’s also environmental damage occurring at [shellfish] spawning time. There’s a whole lot of activities that are mostly detrimental to the beach and its non-human residents.”

Ninety Mile Beach is also popular with tourists, with about 25 tour buses a day travelling on the beach.

Piripi said the iwi recognised tourism was the “goose that laid the golden egg” in Northland and they did not want to destroy it.

Piripi said the days of driving carelessly on the beach, without thinking of the consequences, were over.

“One vehicle doing wheelies on the beach can destroy 10,000 toheroa or spat – those days are gone. We can’t damage our resources like that any more,” he said.

Each year, young toheroa are replanted on the beach, to help the population recover.

In a first for New Zealand, the management plan would also recognise the spiritual importance of the beach to M?ori, who know it as “Te Ara Wairua”, the spiritual pathway taken by the dead on the journey back to their ancient homeland.

“It’s the first time a thing like that – that we can’t see or touch – is being required to be protected. It’s a big breakthrough for us, it acknowledges our beliefs and culture in a way that hasn’t been done before,” Piripi said.

Te Oneroa-?-T?he Board was set up through a Treaty of Waitangi settlement and has a unique even split of iwi and local government.

While not opposed to land next to the beach being developed – such as for housing – the board will be able to consider the environmental impact of any development, Piripi said.


  • Te Oneroa-?-T?he (The Long Beach of T?he) is named after a M?ori chief T?he.
  • The beach is of extreme importance to the five iwi of Te Hiku o te Ika (The Tail of the Fish) in the Far North.
  • Situated on the west coast on the northernmost part of New Zealand, Ninety Mile Beach actually measures 88km (55 miles).
  • Early European settlers thought the beach was 90 miles long because it took their horses three days to cross, and the horses normally travelled 30 miles a day. However, they did not take into account the slowness of traversing the soft sand.