Greater Wellington acts on coastal erosion at Queen Elizabeth Park
As coastal erosion becomes more and more pressing for many of our councils, Greater Wellington is facing up to the issue in Kapiti’s Queen Elizabeth Park, proposing a 40-metre erosion buffer zone along its southern coast to protect assets and allow natural marine processes to take place.
The approach acknowledges a 2010 study of the coastal edge of QEP which estimated that within 50 years up to 40 metres of fore-dunes would be lost, a single large storm event could result in 40 metres of erosion, and ongoing erosion is likely to occur along the toe of foredunes.
“The coastal edge of the park is a dynamic natural landscape, vulnerable to erosion and the effects of climate change,” says Greater Wellington Manager, Parks, Amanda Cox.
“With the onset of sea level rise, more and more extreme rainfall events and the increasing frequency and intensity of storms, we’re moving to protect assets, restore the fore-dunes and re-establish opportunities for people to use and enjoy the area.”
The proposed coastal erosion plan focuses on the coastal edge from the park’s southern entrance at Wellington Road in Paekakariki to approximately 900 metres to the north. It includes dunelands, Paekakariki surf club, Budge House, Wainui Pā, Wainui Stream, and a network of green open spaces, picnic areas, roads, carparks, trails and beach access.
It does not apply to the holiday park or urupa.
QEP’s coast is no stranger to weather-induced damage. Two cyclones earlier in 2018 dramatically showed how vulnerable the park’s coastal edge is to storms and erosion. The pedestrian bridge across the mouth of Wainui Stream was washed away and the toe of the foredunes significantly eroded. Tracks along the beach edge and the coastal ring road were eroded and beach access made difficult.
Greater Wellington has taken an adaptive management approach to dealing with ongoing and severe erosion, preferring to relocate assets and abandon some coastal tracks in the knowledge that building defensive infrastructure would be costly, unlikely to be successful over the long term and out of place in QEP’s natural environment.
“The plan is about adapting to circumstances. It’s obviously futile to fight against the immeasurable forces that erode these shores. The better course is to allow natural coastal processes to take place while protecting key assets and enabling access,” says Amanda.
The key objectives of it plan are to relocate existing visitor facilities and infrastructure to areas outside the zone, restore the fore-dunes and provide sustainable access to the foredunes and the beach, and introduce interpretive signage.
Consultation on the proposal: