Posted on November 12, 2020
“One of the ugliest beaches in the country.”
Westshore Beach has been through its annual spring “replenishment” in time for summer.
Tonnes of shingle have been tamped down along sections of the waterfront, in the name of preventing erosion from the encroaching ocean.
The “one of the ugliest beaches” comment was on Facebook, in response to a Hawke’s Bay Today story about the effectiveness of the shingle.
Ugliest in the country? A bit harsh.
But there is some truth in the comment.
The gravel gives portions of Westshore Beach an industrial quality that, depending on where you swim, can provide a recreational experience similar to what a dip in a quarry lake might be like.
And while most Kiwis can cope with sand between their toes, negotiating the Westshore gravel requires stamina and dogged persistence to scramble and slew your way up the bank.
Two years ago, “replenishing” Westshore with gravel was identified as the short-term solution to erosion at the beach.
Short term is 0-20 years.
In the medium and long term, “control structures” might be introduced to deal with erosion.
But perhaps there is an opportunity to fast track “control structures” and create a unique section of Westshore Beach in the short term that attracts locals and visitors.
Napier City Council, under a previous CEO, mooted the idea of introducing tonnes of white sand to the area.
The concept didn’t go anywhere, but it showed a desire to maximise the potential of what is essentially an inner city beach.
Man-made “control structures” are an option – large steps that prevent erosion and provide a recreational platform for beach users, linked to a promenade, could work.
There are multiple options and the reason the timing is good now, is we aren’t going anywhere for a wee while – but thanks to time and tide, chunks of Westshore Beach are.
The restoration and transformation of Westshore Beach would be an added drawcard to a region that will have plenty of competition in the next few years attracting Kiwis on holiday.
Hawke’s Bay has the creative talent, engineering and environmental expertise and “can-do attitude” to make it happen.
Napier also now has Stuart Nash as the MP in charge of regional development, during a period of economic recovery.
Some lobbying of the honourable member for Napier, about a regional development project that combats erosion and creates a recreational attraction and jobs might be timely.
Any changes to Westshore Beach that make it more attractive need to tick environmental and erosion boxes first.
But there is an opportunity staring Hawke’s Bay in the face, to make the portions of Westshore Beach that are currently Eyesore Beach into something that locals and visitors will flock to.