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The Dunes

Help protect and understand the mighty dunes of the west coast
The dunes you will see at Te Oneone Rangitira and Muriwai are impressive. As tall as trees (see photo). 

 The prevailing westerly winds and powerful surf and tides can quickly shift tonnes of sand in a very short time.  As you travel the trails, consider the sand beneath your feet.  This is all left from the mighty dunes that dominated the landscape from the 1800s on, when damage to the local vegetation began to allow the dunes to push inland.  These dunes towered many stories tall and devoured all the land that is now forest. and inland to where the State Highway and railway now are in places. 

Even as recently as 1964 there were still 10,000 acres in bare sand, and a further 12,000 acres in marram (having just started the journey from sand to forest).

Some Dune Facts:
  • The dunes are made from sand that has been brought north on the prevailing currents from Mt Taranaki through the process of longshore drift.
  • They are black sands full of iron, that greats extremely hot in the sun! This sand is igneous material that was eroded from the volcanic area.
  • When the face of a dune is damaged, the prevailing westerly winds begin to pick at this damage and roll the sand inland.  This is known as a blow-out.  Blow-outs can travel many kilometres if not stopped, burying everything under them. 

Save the Dunes - Trails

 Getting to and from the beach is strictly controlled because of the potential damage caused to the dunes.  However, there are official entry points that will allow you to access the beach.  These should have official markers on them, do not use trails or tracks without official markers. 
save the dunes
To help control trail damage, trails across the dunes are created in a north-westerly direction.  The exit onto the beach will point away from the prevailing south-west and westerly winds.  This is to ensure that the wind does not use the trail as a funnel to create a blow-out.  Please only use trails that enter the beach in this way.  
From the beach, these trails will look like they are 'hiding' behind a dune front and pointing back south.  From the land it may be harder to tell as it is the beach access point that must point north-west.  But keeping to officially marked trails is your best way to protect the dunes.

See how this trail has been angled to avoid the prevailing winds.  All trails that cross the dunes to the beach, should be protected from the prevailing winds to help stop blow-outs occuring.  It seems to 'hide' behind the protection of the dune in front and will always lead to\from the north-west to south-east.

Take Care!

The dunes are both fragile and a powerful destructive force. 
Once a dune starts to move it can take many years of work to stop it rolling inland over the top of everything in its path.
Please respect the dunes! 
  • Travel on the beach, or behind the dunes (NOT on the dunes)


  • Never travel any trail that heads directly WEST from the beach over the dunes. 


  • Only use official marked trails over any dune


  • Respect the plants that hold together the dunes



stay on the trail or stay home