Greater Wellington is building a new carpark at the Wainuiomata River’s mouth to provide formal parking for Baring Head/Ôrua Pouanui visitors and reduce illegal access to the coast.
The carpark is the latest improvement to the iconic Baring Head/Ôrua Pouanui site, which was purchased by a Greater Wellington-led consortium in June 2010 and is being managed by Greater Wellington as part of East Harbour Regional Park. Carpark construction began in late September and is likely to finish by the end of October.
Cr Nigel Wilson, Chair of Greater Wellington’s Social and Cultural Wellbeing Committee, says that vehicles historically had uncontrolled access to Baring Head/Ôrua Pouanui’s coast, presenting problems for the area. "Unfettered vehicle access to the coast resulted in some antisocial and illegal activities such as fire-lighting and poaching, and presented a risk to habitats of rare species such as the banded dotterel."
A ban on motorised recreation in Baring Head/Ôrua Pouanui was put in place when Greater Wellington adopted a management plan for the area in August 2012. This followed public consultation on the plan, with most submitters supporting the ban.
Cr Wilson says the carpark will provide a formal stopping point for vehicles, while blocking vehicle access to the coast. "The visual cue of carpark, along with signage, is important. It lets the community know exactly where vehicles are and aren’t allowed to be. People will also know that if they see a vehicle on the eastern side of the river, it probably isn’t supposed to be there."
People can continue to access Baring Head/Ôrua Pouanui from the beach by foot for most of the year. In summer, there’s usually a gravel bar at the river mouth. However, visitors must not attempt to cross if the river is in flood or the water is discoloured. A footbridge may be developed in the future, depending on funding availability.
The main entrance to Baring Head/Ôrua Pouanui is on Wainuiomata’s Coast Road, about 15 minutes from Wainuiomata, where a carpark already exists and there’s a bridge over the Wainuiomata River.
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