Caring for our Coast

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Coast Care is a coastal restoration programme, run in close partnership with local communities, local authorities and schools that aims to restore and protect the sand dunes along our Thames-Coromandel beaches.

Who is involved?

Coastcare Waikato is a community partnership programme to restore coastal areas throughout the Waikato region. The programme involves volunteers who care about our coastal environment giving their time and expertise to looking after our dunes. This includes residents, schools, iwi, the Department of Conservation, district councils and Waikato Regional Council working together to restore, protect and look after our coasts and all the species that live and grow here.

Coastcare volunteers help with beach clean-ups, planting native dune plants, managing the spread of weeds and pests, fencing and much more. Coastcare offers advice on reducing erosion through planting and also provides resources such as native plants and fertiliser. Part of Coastcare’s role is also to educate people on why caring for our dunes is such an important part of protecting our beaches and that we all have a responsibility to our environment. For the latest information you can follow the Coastcare Waikato Facebook page.

Get involved

Volunteers are invited to come and help at our Coastcare Waikato community planting days (see upcoming events below). 

Digging in the sand is quite easy and dune restoration can be enjoyable and rewarding. You'll be doing your bit for our native plants and animals and working with like-minded locals who care about the environment. All you need to bring is covered sturdy footwear, suitable clothing, gardening gloves and your favourite spade.

Upcoming planting dates

Volunteer call out for Cook's Beach planting


On Tuesday 19 September, Coastcare will hold an impromptu planting event, to plant around 1000 native species.

Last week, Coastcare carried out a sand push-up over the backstop wall at Purangi end of the beach. Until last week, the site conditions and sand levels were not right to do this. We now need to plant this site with Spinifex and Pingao to allow natural self-repair processes should the conditions be favourable. 

They will be using planting augers, which makes the task much easier and faster.

Coastcare will do a site safety briefing and a planting demonstration at 1pm.

Bring your favourite spade (clean), gloves, sun/rain protection and drinking water. If you would like to bring ear protection, please do. There will be earplugs available.


Saturday 23 September 10am (Beach access 17).

To stay up to date, you can follow Coastcare Waikato and Save the Dunes Whangamatā on Facebook.

Whangamatā Dune Restoration

Mark James - Whangamata News The sand dunes in Whangamatā are being restored(PDF, 5MB) with over 7000 native plants.

This will involve earthworks to remove exotic grass and weeds, extending the native dune plant zone further landward to enable a more resilient dune (self-repair) system over time. It will also help to maintain diversity of indigenous coastal species and encourage natural regeneration. The next set of earthworks are scheduled to start the week of September 11.

The project involves working alongside Whangamatā's local community, including iwi Ngāti Pū ki Otairi and hapū Uru Ngawera, Department of Conservation and Coastcare Waikato.

A huge thank you to everyone who came to our most recent community planting day. It went incredibly well thanks to having such a strong turnout. 

Our next planting day will be on Saturday September 23 at 10am, meeting at beach access 17. Bring along a spade, sunhat, water bottle and covered footwear.

To give the new plants a chance to grow and protect the dunes, please make sure to keep off the dunes. Stick to your access ways and make sure your dogs do too.

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The seedlings take about a year to establish, depending on the amount of rain and sun we get. We need them all planted before September, especially if it's going to be a dry year.

Remember: if you see any rabbits, stoats, rats or mice on the dunes, please report this to our Council.  

Initial Spraying Schedule
Sites for dune restoration in Whangamatā have received sprays to remove exotic weeds and undesirable vegetation. 

For more information, join the Facebook Group for volunteers: Save the Dunes Whangamatā.

(Photos thanks to Mark James – Whangamatā News).

Past events

kuotunu-planting.jpg Kūaotunu Dune Care Group recently completed a restoration project in Kūaotunu. Twenty-eight volunteers helped plant 2,800 native coastal species, including Wiwi, Pōhuehue, Harakehe, Toetoe and Tātaraheke.

The most recent Kūaotunu planting was on Friday 14 July at Grays Beach Reserve. There was also a weed swap, where locals could bring along weeds such as ginger, cotoneaster, moth plant and agapanthus.

Some of these are pretty, but they can crowd out native species that work to trap sand and build up the dunes. In return, people could take away a native shrub.  

At the end of August, 20 volunteers pitched in at Matarangi, planting 1300 native species under blue skies.

A big thank you to our volunteers, and to Darren and Sharon at the Matarangi Four Square who donated sausages and bread for the post-planting barbecue. 


Why do we need to look after our dunes?

The dunes are the backbone of our beaches, the buffer between the land and the sea. Healthy dunes are wide, gently sloping and have many dune plants to help anchor them. We now know that native dune plants play a vital role in maintaining the dunes, binding light blowing sand onto the beach, and making stable sand dunes. Without these plants, the sand blows away and dunes disappear - leaving the land vulnerable to weather and wave surges.

The popularity of our beaches, changing climate, pests and development pressure are all affecting the health of our coast, particularly dunes. This makes the work of Coast Care groups even more important in making sure our beaches remain for many more years to come.

Dunes not only provide a buffer between land and sea, they also play an important role in New Zealand’s coastal biodiversity. We have a responsibility to make sure they are protected.

Watch the video series by Coastal Restoration Trust of New Zealand in which we explore the natural processes at work behind Aotearoa New Zealand's beautiful coastlines.


1. How Beaches Work: natural coastal processes


2. Coastal Squeeze


3. Sea Level Rise


4. Fighting Nature


5. Working with Nature


6. Setbacks


7. Dune Restoration Overview


Success Story: Pāuanui Dune Planting Project

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May 2022: More than 200 volunteers planted over 13,000 plants across a 260m length of shoreline at the southern end of Pāuanui beach (approximately between beach access #10 and #11) to increase coastal resilience and enable better management of the reserve space.

This was our biggest and most successful restoration event yet thanks to those involved:

  • The Pāuanui Dune Protection Society
  • The wider Pāuanui community and other volunteers
  • Mercury Bay Environmental Trust
  • Department of Conservation (Whitianga)
  • NZCS
  • Waikato RC
  • CoastCare (Onemana, Waikato)
  • Recreational Services
  • Hikuai School
  • Valley Ed (Thames)
  • Coastlands Nursery
  • Storms Contracting
  • Scotty’s Bobcats

“The weather was fabulous and great community connections were made,” says our Coastal Scientist Jamie Boyle. "The Pāuanui Dune Protection Society helped drive and communicate the need for this work by pulling everyone together and contributing to the design, financing, and rationale of the work.”

The contribution showed understanding for coastal restoration (the CoastCare movement), and the importance of creating, maintaining, and enhancing a resilient dune system.