Protecting toheroa on Oreti Beach

Toheroa in hand on Oreti Beach

Environment Southland is seeking feedback on some important options to protect the toheroa (a native shellfish) on Oreti Beach. It is home to one of the largest populations of toheroa in New Zealand.

Oreti Beach is highly valued by Southlanders. Visitors to the beach enjoy a range of activities including swimming, walking, floundering, picnicking, sight-seeing, horse riding and relaxing. Part of the attraction is the ability to drive on the beach and/or shelter in or near vehicles. But young toheroa live just below the surface in the soft sand near the dunes and can be crushed by vehicles driving on the beach. Approximately 100,000 vehicles drive on Oreti Beach every year and the majority of these access the beach from the Dunns Road entrance. On any one day, an average of 250 vehicles may access the beach, although this can increase to up to 1,600 during peak times.

Our role is to sustainably manage the coast under the Resource Management Act. National coastal policy changed in 2010, and a new coastal plan for Southland is needed to make sure we manage the coast in a way that is consistent with the law. One of the policies in the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement requires the protection of indigenous biological diversity in the coastal environment, and this includes toheroa.

We need your feedback on the four options we're considering. Complete the survey below, or download the consultation document to find out more.

Each option outlines a different level of vehicle restriction on the beach, and each would provide a ‘safe zone’ for people and young toheroa, free from vehicles.


Environment Southland is seeking feedback on some important options to protect the toheroa (a native shellfish) on Oreti Beach. It is home to one of the largest populations of toheroa in New Zealand.

Oreti Beach is highly valued by Southlanders. Visitors to the beach enjoy a range of activities including swimming, walking, floundering, picnicking, sight-seeing, horse riding and relaxing. Part of the attraction is the ability to drive on the beach and/or shelter in or near vehicles. But young toheroa live just below the surface in the soft sand near the dunes and can be crushed by vehicles driving on the beach. Approximately 100,000 vehicles drive on Oreti Beach every year and the majority of these access the beach from the Dunns Road entrance. On any one day, an average of 250 vehicles may access the beach, although this can increase to up to 1,600 during peak times.

Our role is to sustainably manage the coast under the Resource Management Act. National coastal policy changed in 2010, and a new coastal plan for Southland is needed to make sure we manage the coast in a way that is consistent with the law. One of the policies in the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement requires the protection of indigenous biological diversity in the coastal environment, and this includes toheroa.

We need your feedback on the four options we're considering. Complete the survey below, or download the consultation document to find out more.

Each option outlines a different level of vehicle restriction on the beach, and each would provide a ‘safe zone’ for people and young toheroa, free from vehicles.