Council formulating beach plan

A redesigned seawall, moving an old landfill and creating better beach access are all possibilities for Dunedin’s coast in the next 100 years.

Other options include installing groynes or breakwaters, bolstering sand dunes, creating walkways and shifting sports fields.

The Dunedin City Council is grappling with ways St Clair and St Kilda beaches and Middle Beach might be managed amid the might of nature, erosion and climate change.

DCC coastal specialist Tom Simons-Smith said the total price tag of work could
extend to hundreds of millions of dollars over the next century.

Doing nothing would impose its own costs, however.

The seawall at St Clair is not likely to last beyond 20 years, even with modifications, and an old landfill under Kettle Park is at risk of being exposed by erosion.

Mr Simons-Smith said the status quo at Middle Beach was not sustainable.

Separate from the landfill, contaminated material was also in sand dunes there.

Longer term, John Wilson Ocean Dr is expected to be exposed at St Kilda.

Retreating from parts of the coast and working to make sand dunes more resilient are among the approaches to be considered.

More drastic interventions could include removing part or all of the old landfill, shifting sports fields, using sand-trapping structures such as groynes or breakwaters and redesigning the St Clair seawall.

Walkways could improve amenity and beach access along the coast.

The city council is seeking feedback to help it develop the St Clair-St Kilda Coastal Plan and will host seven community workshops in the next month.

The council has created a series of images to give people visual representations of options to think about.

Mr Simons-Smith presented St Clair Beach, Middle Beach and St Kilda Beach as three distinct areas and signalled different approaches could be adopted for each.

Infrastructure services general manager Simon Drew said the concept visuals were designed to provide a general sense of options.

"Through community conversations to date, about 1200 people have told us what they value about this coast and what they’re concerned about," Mr Drew said.

"Some of the key themes to emerge were the community’s desire for better protection from coastal erosion, improved and safer access to the beach, an enhanced natural environment and habitats for wildlife, and more opportunities for recreation.

"These new concept visuals aim to capture what people have told us, and this next round of consultation will help us to firm up a solid long-term vision and plan for managing and protecting the coast over the coming decades and beyond."

People could complete online surveys.

Mr Simons-Smith said feedback would help officials and experts to create a draft plan.

"While we have broken the coast into three parts for the purposes of the survey, we do of course consider how management at one part can affect the coast as a whole," he said.

The next round of consultation runs until March 29.

Community workshops

Dunedin City Library, fourth floor
Tomorrow, 1.30pm; March 14, 
Tainui School Hall: February 28, 
1.30pm; March 21; 1.30pm
University of Otago Centre for 
Sustainability: March 11, 11am and 
St Clair School hall: March 13, 2pm



View all

Let's hope they do better than the current sea wall. If we have the same level of incompetence in design and build we will need at least 3 more sea walls to cover the 100 year period. Funny how ones built by the Victorians in places around the UK coast have lasted well over 100 years. Wonder if we could learn something from them?

Absolutely wonderful ... a new beach in a hundred years !!

You really do have to take your hat off to the DCC and/or ORC ... their forward planning is astounding. I know they, as do most other councils, have a 10 year plan, but our guys don't muck around, eh !

In 100 years, the popluation of Dunedin is probably going to be zero ... most of us having died of lead poisoning because, once again, the DCC is using the 100 year beach plan to find a nice sandy place to bury their heads in.

Wake up Councillors .... anyone who thinks about what are beaches are going to look like in 100 years is only playing the old game of smoke and mirrors ... get your heads out of the sand, listen to what people NEED, and fix the stuff-ups that are affecting the people of Dunedin NOW !!

Please have the sense to look up the difference between NEEDS and WANTS !!!

Your deficit thinking is monumental. With this kind of negativity directed towards our elected representatives who would want to be one.
The plan is needed and my familiarity with the area suggests strongly that this has been thoroughly thought out. Highly impressive.
Probably not as good as you could do though. We will never know because doubtless you’d never have the courage to stand for public office, preferring to be acerbic on the sidelines.

It is lovely of you to have such faith in the DCC. Not sure you actually know the meaning of the term "deficit thinking" though.
When you're looking at the DCC 100yr focus, just take into account that NIWA projects that by 2120, mean sea level rise in NZ will be between 2.6m and 8.5m. Given that our council seems to want to build large infrastructure on the foreshore, and support large cockleshell hotel developments on the harbour edge I think "heads in the sand" is not an unjustified comment. (

OK Doomer.

Why commit to hundreds of millions and major loss of amenity before trying the one thing that protected St Clair for a century? Read a detailed report here:

Let’s repair the remaining poles back to a working groyne for just $100K and give it a trial. That is an experiment we can all see for ourselves for a lot less than the various inconclusive reports we’ve paid for over the past 20 years.

It'll never work Jules ... it's far too simple and doesn't waste enough ratepayers money. There needs to be at least another $10m spent on consultants reports.

Nice to see there's another realist in Dunedin though !!

It is encouraging to see a council member thinking about more modest proposals. Thank you. I'm concerned that the DCC's proposal doesn't seem to consider the rest of South Dunedin. If sea level is going to rise as much as NIWA thinks it will, it won't be walkways to the beach, it'll be canals!

View all







Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter