New Steps in Place on Omaha Spit

By Roger Grace

The new steps provide easy access down the sand cliff at the end of the fence

The new steps provide easy access down the sand cliff at the end of the fence

New steps at the estuary end of the predator-proof fence at Omaha provide coastal walkers with an easy option of a loop walk along the fence line.  The steps will avoid problems of people walking along the fence then coming to a sand cliff and scrambling down it causing erosion of the unstable slope.

The area north of the fence is a sanctuary for birds, and dogs are prohibited.  The new steps also provide dog owners walking north from the Omaha boat ramp and jetty a way to get up the sand cliff safely and remain outside the bird sanctuary.

At high tide hundreds of birds roost on the spit and its beaches, and at that time walkers should avoid proceeding around the end of the spit in the sanctuary to prevent unnecessary disturbance of the birds.  The new steps also give walkers the option to keep out of the sanctuary at high tide.  At low tide most of the birds are away feeding on the harbour sand flats or in other nearby estuaries, so walking around the spit end is not a problem.

During the breeding season however, from about August through to February, the sanctuary area is even more sensitive and walking around the end of the spit unnecessarily should be avoided to allow rare NZ dotterels a chance to successfully breed.  This is especially important at high tide as it is impossible to keep a safe distance from the birds and their nests.

Walkers with dogs can climb the steps and remain outside the sensitive sanctuary

Walkers with dogs can climb the steps and remain outside the sensitive sanctuary

Comments

  1. I remain opposed to these steps as they encourage people to walk along the fenceline which will exacerbate the erosion will will inevitably occur. It also channels people, dogs, cats etc. down to the end of the fence and from there into the reserve. There should be a walkway across the spit along the edge of the reserve, away from the fence and through an area less prone to erosion.
    The area where the steps have been built should have been blocked off!

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