Sunday, 20 September 2020


Boating Club erosion quantified

The severity of the erosion of Buffalo Beach at the Mercury Bay Boating Club in Whitianga was quantified when the results of the first resurvey of the dune and beach area in front of the clubhouse was released. RMS Surveyors have been engaged by the Boating Club to carry out monitoring surveys following concerns about increasing rates of erosion along the dune face. The resurvey was done two weeks ago.

“We can report that since the original survey on 5 July 2020 (52 days) the face of the dune has retreated by an average of 0.9m and by up to 1.8m in places,” the RMS report stated. “The toe of the dune has retreated more than the top, with the result that the face is now generally steeper than when last surveyed.

“The top of the bank immediately in front of the clubhouse has retreated by 0.5m to 1.3m. The toe has retreated by 0.8m to 1.6m.”

The rate of erosion caused The Informer to ask Thames-Coromandel District Council mayor, Sandra Goudie, and local councillors, Murray McLean and Tony Fox, as well as the Thames Coromandel representative on Waikato Regional Council, Denis Tegg, how they personally would like to see the issue being dealt with. As reported in The Informer of 28 July, if hard structures (including a backstop or rock wall, and groynes) are deemed to be a suitable option under the Shoreline Management Plans TCDC is in the process of developing, resource consent for such structures may be several years away. According to TCDC coastal scientist, Jamie Boyle, if the current average rate of erosion at the top of dune continues, the clubhouse will be directly impacted in approximately three years’ time. The deck in front of the clubhouse will be impacted earlier.

Councillors Fox and McLean indicated that they would like TCDC to consider undertaking emergency protection work under the Resource Management Act. Mr Fox qualified his position, however by saying that the cost of any hard options should be weighed up against the cost of continuous soft options, including sand push-ups and temporary groynes. “An 80m geotech bag seawall will cost in excess of $500,000,” he said. “A rock wall will cost closer to $800,000. And these are the two cheapest alternatives. Given that there are at least 13 other coastal erosion hotspots on the Coromandel, we have to carefully consider how ratepayers money is spent. Soft options may well be the way to go to buy time while permanent hard options are being considered as part of the Shoreline Management Plans process.”

We did not hear from Mrs Goudie and Councillor Tegg.

The delegated authority within TCDC to order emergency protection works sits with Infrastructure Manager, Mohamed Imtiaz.

In the meantime, the erosion at the Boating Club uncovered a collection of Lion Beer cans, buried more than 1m under the surface. The appearance of the cans indicates that they hail from the mid-1970s. How the cans got to where they are, seems to be a mystery. According to several long-time locals the Informer spoke to, Whitianga’s old Buffalo Beach rubbish dump was further to the south (at Buffalo Beach Reserve).

Pictured: Mercury Bay Boating Club commodore, Jonathan Kline, indicating the depth of the Lion Beer cans uncovered through the erosion at the club.


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The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.