The View From Opoutere

An Important Public Health Warning

Marine biotoxin warning issued

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) today issued a public health warning advising the public not to collect or consume shellfish harvested from the southern end of Pauanui Beach down to the northern tip of Mount Maunganui, including the Tauranga Harbour.


Routine tests on shellfish samples taken from this region have shown levels of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) toxins above the safe limit of 0.8 mg/kg set by MPI. Anyone eating shellfish from this area is potentially at risk of illness. Please help keep your whānau safe over the Christmas break and avoid collecting shellfish from the affected area.

Due to currents and prevailing winds going in the opposite direction, the presence of toxic shellfish are not believed to be related to the recent eruption of White Island.

Mussels, oysters, tuatua, pipi, toheroa, cockles, scallops, catseyes, kina (sea urchin), and all other bivalve shellfish should not be eaten.

Note: cooking shellfish does not remove the toxin.

Pāua, crab, and crayfish may still be eaten if the gut has been completely removed prior to cooking, as toxins accumulate in the gut. If the gut is not removed its contents could contaminate the meat during the cooking process.

Symptoms typically appear between 10 minutes and 3 hours after ingestion and may include:

  •  numbness and a tingling (prickly feeling) around the mouth, face, and extremities (hands and feet)
  • difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • paralysis and respiratory failure and, in severe cases, death.

If anyone becomes ill after eating shellfish from an area where a public health warning has been issued, phone Healthline for advice on 0800 61 11 16, or seek medical attention immediately. You are also advised to contact your nearest public health unit and keep any leftover shellfish in case it can be tested.

Monitoring of toxin levels will continue.

Commercially harvested shellfish – sold in shops and supermarkets, or exported – is subject to strict water and flesh monitoring programmes by MPI to ensure they are safe to eat.

The Latest from ORRA

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It’s been a busy year for ORRA.  We thought it was about time for an update! 

Acting Chair

Earlier in the year, Gordon Ikin, our elected chairperson, had to step down for health reasons. Committee member Val Herbert, kindly and valiantly stepped up to be our acting chair.  Val has done an incredible job of heading the association through some interesting times . . .

Containers of herbicide found on the beach reserve

During the winter some containers of herbicide, tagged with ORRA’s name, were found on the beach reserve.  Did they belong to ORRA? No, they didn’t and the person responsible has apologized for this. The upside is: this resulted in discussions with DOC about the need for a Community Agreement to define permitted activities around weed and pest control.   This is now in train. We hope this Community Agreement will be in place soon as this is essential for our ongoing work on public land. Especially because . . .

We got some serious funding

We are thrilled that ORRA has been awarded $14,080 from DOC’s Community Fund – Pūtea Tautiaki Hapori. The Fund was oversubscribed with a total of 378 applications with $8 million available – so we are especially grateful that DOC has recognised us with this grant.

Covering three years the grant provides for resetting predator traps (Goodnature),  non-toxic lures for our DOC 200 predator traps, equipment to keep our volunteers safe and tools to monitor predator numbers in the area. The funding panel acknowledged the good work done by ORRA in the past and together we’re busy finalising the details so we can get back to the mahi.

Tea Towels

Doing the dishes never looked so good! A whopping $3,510 has been raised from the first tea towel print run featuring the fabulous native creatures of Opoutere.  They are now sold out. There may be another print run pre-Christmas, conditional on demand. Please put your Christmas pre-orders in ASAP to Rachel Lang.

Youth Hostel Reopens

It’s BACK! After a sad eighteen months the Opoutere YHA is reopening under a new entity – Wharekawa Adventure Education Trust, and will offer summer accommodation from early December 2019. If you are a YHA member you’ll get preferential booking, for more information go to

Bruce’s Bay

Hard-working volunteers transformed the Bruce’s Bay causeway and foot-bridge (you can’t miss the cheerful yellow paint job!). The whole area has been battered by high tides and further work will happen as time allows.  Thanks to all the workers, but especially to project leaders: Peter Le Heron, Keryn Kliskey and Stuart Farmer.

Tree poisoner rumours

This continues to be a focus in the community, so we thought we should talk about it.  An individual has been accused. They have said to ORRA, also to DOC, that they have not done this.  We believe them. There is no evidence to suggest that they are responsible. Community rumour has resulted in unfortunate vigilante action and appalling vandalism.  It has got so bad that the police have been notified.  

ORRA asks that everyone in our community remember our values: respect, tolerance and kindness.  If you have concerns; let’s talk before resorting to threatening tactics.

Forestry report

Logging and more frequent flooding mean that more silt is accumulating in the estuary.  ORRA has commissioned a report from an independent forestry expert to give us an overview of local forestry.  This work is ongoing, and extremely important – the health of our estuary affects us all.


Mangroves are great in the right place.  But increasing siltation means they are growing out of control.  We continue to cut them back, but we have to work within a resource consent from the Waikato Regional Council. In the recent renewal of the consent we weren’t able to get the conditions varied to include using line trimmers. We’ll be doing  more working bees on mangroves next year – and thanks to committee member Lene Knight for carrying the flame on this.  


Opoutere now has a defibrillator, it is located at 301 Opoutere Rd (Elizabeth Savage’s house). When in use it has pre-recorded instructions that guide the user. Thanks to the Onemana Voluntary Rural Fire Force for donating the defibrillator which was surplus to their needs, and to committee member Neil Graham for installing it.

Dog Control

As you may have seen, we have new signs about dogs on the beach.  Dogs are not permitted anywhere south of the yellow benches or off-lead on any other part of the beach. This is particularly important now the dotterels are busy breeding!  The good news is, we have a new TCDC dog control officer in Whangamata. Rebecca Tilsley is making effective efforts to control dogs and she also oversees freedom camping compliance. She will respond to any complaints and does regular patrols, you can call TCDC day or night on 07 868 0200.

Dotterel Ranger

Keep an eye out for the new Dotterel Ranger, Stewart, who has started patrolling the beach and dunes to keep an eye on the dotterels. They are nesting right along the beach this season, probably due to the changed terrain on the spit. Dogs, especially, should be kept well away from nesting sites. Please make sure to give our small neighbours plenty of space so they can get on with raising their families in peace.  

CCC – the Community Collective Commitment

You may have seen the notices about the Community Collective Commitment that is proposed for Opoutere. This process will define the combined values of the community – which will influence policy and future funding. It is important and affects all of us.   The CCC is a collaborative effort that involves ORRA, the Wharekawa Catchment Care Group and independent locals who wish to be heard. DOC is facilitating the process. There will be a public meeting to discuss this on 11 January 2020. Notices confirming details will be posted in the village and emailed out where possible. 

Please have a think about what matters to you in Opoutere and have your say. You can email our interim chairperson Val Herbert at with any concerns or questions.


Come along to the ORRA AGM, Thursday January 2, 2020, time TBC, Opoutere School Hall. Notices will be emailed out and posted in the village.


The legendary Opoutere Regatta will be held on Friday January 3rd in Bruce’s Bay.  Look out for notices about the time. Rain day 4th January. Everyone is welcome to attend and participate, from the littlest toddler to the most competitive bloke with a score to settle from regattas past (you know who you are). There’ll be a prize-giving BBQ on the reserve afterwards, undignified lolly scramble included.  



Exciting Youth Hostel News


Media Release 16 October 2019


YHA New Zealand are delighted to announce the handover of the former YHA Opoutere to the Wharekawa Adventure Education Trust which will include summer accommodation offerings.

The Opoutere hostel shut its doors in April 2018 following winter closures and low occupancy over a number of years. YHA New Zealand has been working with a local group, now formalised as the Wharekawa Adventure Education Trust (WAET), since early 2018 to facilitate handover of the property to deliver outdoor education programmes for youth. With the formalisation of the Trustnow complete, YHA are able to announce the Trust’s intention to also provide visitor accommodation over the peak summer period.

Mark Wells, YHA New Zealand’s Chief Executive, is particularly pleased to see the development go public. “We have worked together for many months to realise the vision of Wharekawa, with strongsupport from the Thames Coromandel District Council. We are especially supportive of this initiative, which aligns directly with the gazetted purpose of the site to deliver programmes for the benefit of youth.”

“YHA Opoutere was a very special location for many of our members, guests and staff over theyears. To find a group so passionate about supporting youth development in line with our own mission and values, and who are able to offer that summer accommodation, was an excellentoutcome for all parties,” says Mr Wells. “We know several families who loved the site as they woulda family bach, so this development will be great news for them.”

In support of this development, Wharekawa Adventure Education Trust has entered into a new lease with the Thames Coromandel District Council who own the land, and purchased the improvements on site from YHA. They plan to offer visitor accommodation from December 1 2019, with outdoor education programmes commencing in early 2020.

“We’re really excited about the future and the programmes we can offer,” says spokesperson forWAET, Alistair Luke. “We’ve really appreciated the work YHA have put in to help us bring this dream to life. We can’t wait to get started.”

The Thames Coromandel District Council is similarly delighted with the result. “The gazetted purposeof the site has always been to deliver programmes for the benefit of youth,” says Council representative Jon Muston. “The intended use of this site demonstrates a really excellent alignment with this purpose and we’re very appreciative of the collaboration between YHA New Zealand andWharekawa Adventure Education Trust to make this happen.”

WAET are finalising their booking system and intend to offer bookings to YHA members before opening these to the public. Booking information is expected to be provided to YHA members in early November.

About YHA New Zealand

The Youth Hostels Association of New Zealand (YHA New Zealand) is a not-for-profit association established in 1932 in Canterbury. With a network of over 35 hostels in both islands, YHA New Zealand provides high quality budget accommodation to New Zealanders and international travellers. YHA New Zealand is a committed advocate of sustainable practices. For more information, please visit:


To learn more about this please contact:

Mark Wells
Chief Executive, YHA New Zealand 166 Moorhouse Ave, Christchurch DDI: 03 353 9197
MOB: 027 494


Kia Ora Opoutere friends,

This year’s fund-raising effort is – tea towels!  Useful and beautiful, this set of three large tea towels celebrates the birds, sea life and insects of Opoutere.  

Printed on hard-wearing natural cotton, you can use and fling into the washing machine.  (Unless you decide they are so lovely that you want to hang them on the wall.) Ideal Christmas presents; easy to send overseas – and available now!


Cost:  $20 for a single, or $50 for a set of three.   

Postage and packing: $4.50 for a set.  $3.50 for a single.   

All proceeds go to ORRA conservation work.


Order via email at  Remember to include your address and if you’d like a single, let me know which one.   Bank account is: 03 0123 0253040 000 


Over Labour Weekend, I’ll also have supplies you can pick up in person.  Please call or message first. Mobile: (027) 248 3877. Landline: (07) 865 6799.


Pick up address: 355 Opoutere Road –  (cnr Opoutere Road and Ngahere Tce, where the phone box used to be).   


Be in quick – I think they will be popular.


Nga mihi,

Rachel Lang


Community Tree Planting


Help Jo Adams plant 1500 indigenous trees

  • Jo Adams has been involved in a restorative project along the Wharekawa River on his property  with the assistance of the WRC.
  • Now is the time for the next stage of the restoration project on his property. Planting 1500 indigenous trees.
  • How brilliant that we can be part of this project!
  • Come and see the bank restoration that has already been done. Move the project to the next stage.
  • We need volunteers! Glad to give a little time to someone who commits so much time and effort to our community.


Saturday  29th June 10 a.m

Saturday 6th July 10 a.m.

If you can be there the first Saturday or the following Saturday just send a msg to 0272554508 or


Please take a moment to read the notice below, there has been some concern over recent incidents involving dogs on the Wharekawa wildlife reserve, on the sand spit at the mouth of the estuary.

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Defibrillator Training In Opoutere


Opoutere Now Has A Defribillator

A Community Invitation to all

Proposed Defibrillator Training June 2nd 2019

Current situation

Opoutere now has a cardiac defibrillator installed at Elizabeth Savage’s section, 301 Opoutere Rd. It is housed an easily recognisable rectangular red metal box (approx. 30 x 50 x 12cm in size) that has a white heart on the front.

Thanks to Neil Graham for organising the defibrillator, supported by ORRA, to the Onemana Fire Brigade lead by Jo Adams, Chief Fire Officer who generously donated the box to house the defibrillator and to Liz Savage for allowing her property to be the recognised accessible site for the device.

Next Steps

Jo Adams (FENZ,) is very keen to get a wider group of locals trained as soon as possible in how to use the Defibrillator and in CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), through a St Johns accredited trainer. While we do have a number of people with the needed skills currently, we need to extend the number to guarantee better coverage of our community if people are away/ busy.

Defibrillator and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) Training by Felix from St Johns is proposed:

Date: Sunday June 2, 2019

Time: 10.00 a.m.- 12 .00 noon

Place: Tawa Tawa Lodge, 82 Opoutere Road

Cost Koha- Gold coin donation for St Johns

Jo Adams needs to know asap if this training opportunity has sufficient support to run this weekend. Also numbers may need to be limited depending on the response.

Names and numbers need to be confirmed with me by Friday 31st at 12 noon


*Visit the NZ Heart Foundation for more information on what a heart attack looks like.*

Thank you

Easter Update



Join the gang in the Spit Forest to help clear kahili ginger. Thousands of square meters of this vigorous weed have been cleared over the last couple of years – come and see the difference that has been made while helping us to clean up the little seedlings and odd patches that we have yet to clear.

When? Easter Saturday 9-11am

Where? Logan’s track – off Madeleine’s track. Look for the cones on the main beach track from the carpark and turn right.  Walk Madeleine’s track until you see another safety cone turn left – that is Logan’s track. Walk 200 meters along that track and you will find us. (Call Chris if you are confused, ph 021 418 119.)

Bring: closed shoes, garden gloves, sunhat, water and bug spray. 





The word is out – 2019 is going to be a “megamast’ year. Forest & Bird explain this very well:

“In a ‘mast’ year, trees experience extremely heavy flowering, fruiting and seeding. Historically this would trigger an abundance of food for native wildlife to make up for lean years. But now mast events boost rodent numbers, and in turn stoat numbers. When the seed or fruit is gone, the plague of predators turn to our native birds, bats, lizards and insects.  Depending on your forest type, the real crunch moment is when the fruit rots or the seed germinates, and suddenly a plethora of rats are very hungry!

This year has been labelled a ‘megamast’ because both beech and podocarp forests are masting at the same time across most of the country.  It also follows a heavy fruiting of broadleaf species, which has fuelled a summer abundance of birds, but also of rats.”

What can we do? 

  • We keep trapping and baiting, but we check our traplines more frequently.
  • We will install some extra traps around the perimeter of our village where the forestry area meets the native bush – this is where we will see a lot of predator traffic.
  • We are going to rely on EVERYONE getting involved in backyard trapping. Predator Free NZ has a great page with a super-easy guide to get you started.
  • Clear out weeds and rubbish in your garden – don’t give the little devils easy nesting places.
  • Visit Goodnature to source automatically resetting possum and rat traps, Predator Free NZ to buy Doc200 box traps and for bait stations, traps and bait.
  • Donate to ORRA – please consider a financial contribution to our pest control programme. Our volunteers are out on the traplines every week, personally buying eggs for the traps and doing the hard yards scraping dead things out of traps. Here are our bank details and membership forms, we would be very grateful for your financial help if you are not able to help out physically.




Here is a summary of the season as provided by Glenda Betts:

Ohui 7 NZD fledged, Wharekawa sandpit and mid-beach 9 NZD fledged = total 16 NZD fledged

NB: Fledgling time depends on how much food the chicks get. More disturbance = slower growth rate of chicks. 28 days for egg to hatch + 28-30 days for chick to fledge

The final 4 chicks hatched late-January and early-february – took 6 & 7 weeks to fledge.



Thanks to Chips Jones for replacing rotten wood, repairing the bridge’s sub-structure and finishing the job with a brand new coat of yellow paint. The causeway is looking wonderful after some epic working bees and now the little bridge itself has been given the VIP treatment. Thanks to everyone who has been involved in this project.

bridge pic

The little bridge – resplendent in sunshine yellow paint – it complements the fantastic repairs being done to the causeway.


Thanks to Jo Adams and the team at the Onemana Rural Fire Force for keeping an eye on Opoutere during the recent dry months. It has been fantastic to see the big, yellow unimog patrolling the area and keeping us all safe.

Jo has a message for Opoutere: Even though the summer fire ban period has ended the surrounding forests are still very dry and a fire risk. Please take care and don’t hesitate to call 111 if you have any concerns about a fire in the open.




Summer In Review

As autumn marches across the landscape it’s a good time to reflect on summer’s happenings.


We have enjoyed fantastic conditions for losing ourselves in the natural world of Opoutere , with record high temperatures and long, settled weather patterns. By February the water tankers were plying their trade in the village as domestic reserves ran low, mercifully late-March has seen welcome rain filling the tanks and reviving the soil.



Thanks to everyone who:

  • came along to the AGM and contributed to the community conversation
  • paid their ORRA subscriptions (It’s not too late! Go to this page for bank details.)
  • attended working bees
  • participated in the regatta and prize giving bbq on the Michael King Reserve (top work Shan, Gavin, Rachel and Simon)
  • signed up for Dotterel Watch (especially Gordon Ikin who organised the roster)
  • donated to our forestry consultant fund
  • controlled plant and animal pests on their land
  • kept an eye on boat traffic in the harbour during the busy holiday period
  • did their bit, said their piece and kept Opoutere beautiful.

Budding eco-champion Lorena with a DOC200 trap, peanut butter lure and a chunk of rabbit for good luck!


ORRA would also like to publicly acknowledge:

  • the Waikato Regional Council’s Small Scale Community Initiatives Fund. Money received has been used to buy cutting tools, pesticide and safety equipment for working bees.
  • Eureka Enterprises, who have supported our ginger removal efforts by generously discounting our favourite hand tool – the Niwashi Garden Shark.
    Working bee with Garden Sharks

    Some of our hard-working volunteers (including George the dog) brandishing Garden Sharks. Recent victims of the Garden Sharks can be seen in the background.



ORRA’s predator control work, spearheaded by Chris Woudenberg, has contributed to a very successful breeding season for the banded rail population. They are often seen dashing across the road as if in a blind panic (insouciance is not their style) and are notoriously shy. You may hear their distinctive call in the wetlands and around the estuarine shoreline. The Wharekawa Catchment Care Group (in conjunction with Waikato Regional Council) has been busy setting up traplines in the Kapakapa wetlands area, which will further protect the banded rail community in that part of the village.

Over the summer months a family with chicks were frequently spotted in the mangroves by the beach carpark footbridge, one was captured in the photo below.

Val's banded rail

Banded rail at Waponga Reserve footbridge. Photo by Val Herbert


Spot the banded rail! From WRC’s Facebook page.


Hats off to Glenda Betts who took on the job of DOC’s Dotterel Ranger for Opoutere this season.  Glenda has worked tirelessly alongside DOC Ranger Frouk Miller to tally up eggs, chicks and fledglings and protect nesting sites. While protecting dotterel nests on the Wharekawa Spit one day they experienced abusive behaviour from some members of the public and ORRA would like to acknowledge the important job they did and express our sadness that this sort of event happened while people were protecting an endangered species.

A summary of the dotterel breeding season will be published in the Easter update on these pages.



While the sun shone during the busy holiday period much work was done by volunteers at well-attended working bees.

Weed Removal in the Beach Reserve Forest

During late-December and early-January teams of people worked to remove kahili ginger in the beach forest. The difference is amazing.

However, while the native understory is thriving in the newly liberated terrain, dormant ginger seeds are still rising like tiny, green zombies out of the soil!  Thankfully, the forest provides a lovely work environment so the prospect of regular ginger sessions is surprisingly appealing.  There are always interesting people to chat with as you crawl about in the undergrowth pulling out ginger. An added bonus is that the emerging carpet of native plant seedlings is a magical sight to see.

Keep an eye on the bus shelter for working bee notices.



Thanks to Chris Woudenberg for his determination in tackling plant pests (not just ginger but also barberry, ink weed, privet, cotoneaster, pampas…the list goes on) – he has methodically mapped the areas needing work, organised the materials required, and rallied the troops.


Bruce’s Bay Causeway Repairs

At the ORRA AGM in January concerns were raised about the deterioration of the little stone walkway that crosses Bruce’s Bay. This causeway provides safe passage for pedestrians who would otherwise be navigating a very tight corner on a busy road with little to no footpath. It was originally constructed (under a veil of anonymity and largely solo) by Bruce Collier, a resident whose name attaches to this little cove due to his herculean efforts to transform it into a pleasant corner of the village. Bruce now resides at the Booms Care Home in Thames.

ORRA committee members Stuart Farmer and Keryn Kliskey teamed up with Peter Le Heron and organised working bees to lay new foundations for the bridge, reinforce the causeway and repair the wooden rails on the bridge. Rocks and builders’ mix were donated, Peter provided a concrete mixer, many barrows of heavy cement and rocks were hauled about, morning teas were provided by Angela Peters and everyone went home tired and perfumed by the mud of Bruce’s Bay!

Thanks to all the strong arms, legs and backs that tackled this tough job and to Angela Peters for the wonderful photos and refreshments.


Enjoy the lovely autumn days, the next update will be at Easter.






Summer Happenings

The pohutukawa are in flower, the dotterel chicks are hatching and our village is about to fill up with bach visitors and campers!


Here are a few important dates for your diary:


The Opoutere Regatta  –  Saturday December 29 2pm

Opoutere’s annual regatta – with swimming and kayak races for young and old.

Start time is 2pm and there will be prize giving and a bbq across the road in the Michael King Reserve. (Bring $$ for the bbq!)

Everyone is welcome.


Opoutere Ratepayers & Residents Association AGM  –  Wednesday January 2nd 9.30am

Come along to see what the association has been working on this year and make sure that your subs are up to date so you can vote (an agenda will be posted on the bus shelter)! You can also join the association if you are not already a member.

The meeting will be held in the Opoutere School hall.


Dotterel Watch  –  low tides between Xmas and early NY 2019

Please sign up for a shift on the Wharekawa Spit at low tide to help protect the dotterel’s access to food at low tide. See the bus shelter for the roster.


Summer Holiday Working Bees 

Ginger Clean-up (no loud machines) December 22 9-11am: We are taking care of little ginger seedlings that have sprung up since our last major working bee in the forest. Walk through the forest towards the yellow bench beach entrance, look for the orange cones and follow that forest trail for a couple of hundred meters  – you can’t miss us.

PROVISIONAL DATES: Thursday December 27 + Monday December 31st