Aucklanders flocking to parks and beaches as summer heats up

By Maia Ingoe of RNZ

Aucklanders have been flocking to the region's parks and beaches in great numbers this summer.

Auckland Council regional parks and reserves manager Scott De Silva said rangers reported large visitor numbers in many areas.

But they had also been finding some rule-breakers spoiling the fun at the region's best spots, he said.

The most popular spots for Aucklanders this summer have been Long Bay, Tāwharanui, Shakespear Regional Park and Waitawa.

The high visitor numbers had increased demand for carparking, with limited space available in some places, De Silva said.

He reminded visitors they were not allowed to drive on any beaches, parks or picnic areas.

"This rule is crucial to follow at all times but particularly pertinent over the summer holiday period, to ensure visitors, wildlife and fragile coastal eco-systems remain protected," he said.

Park rangers have reported illegal freedom campers, with people feigning innocence and saying they aren't aware of the rules, De Silva said.

They had also seen dogs let loose on beaches, where they were not allowed, he said.

"We are seeing dogs on prohibited beach areas, which is disappointing when many of our native birds are vulnerable mid-way through their breeding season," he said.

"During hot summer days, your pooch is likely to be more comfortable left at home."

De Silva reminded people to check if camping is allowed before heading out to one of Auckland's parks.

"It helps to always come prepared with plenty of hydration, sunblock, and shade. All our regional parks are rubbish free so visitors must plan to take their rubbish home."

He reminded visitors to always check Safeswim, because many of the region's inner city beaches had recently been hindered by sewage causing black flag no-swim notices.

Adventurers heading out on a hike should also be aware of track closures, De Silva said.

Four reserves on the North Shore remain completely closed after damage from Cyclone Gabrielle and the Auckland Anniversary floods.

Thirty tracks are fully or partially closed across Devonport, Takapuna, Kaipātiki, East Coast Bays and the Hibiscus Coast, awaiting repairs.

De Silva said hikers should tell someone where they were going, take communication devices, food and appropriate clothing.

"Overall, visitors are generally showing respect for our parks, each other and the vital work our rangers do to keep these environments safe for everyone."