Tahunanui Reserve Management Plan

Council's management plan for the Tahunanui Reserve was adopted in 2004. The Tahunanui Reserve is a 93 hectare triangular site between the Waimea inlet and the coastal cliffs of the Port Hills. It includes the beach, the dunes, the back beach embayment, motor camp and the flat developed areas of land.

The coastal area was only recently formed - much of the beach and sand dunes that we know today have been formed since 1909. The plan is a way to manage these changes so we balance the needs of residents, of visitors and of the reserve.

About the plan

The plan divides the reserve into three management areas: Coastal, Inland and the Motor Camp. Each area has different recreational and landscape characteristics and so needs to be managed in different ways.

The eastern end of the reserve provides for a higher level of developed facilities, including a wide variety of commercial activities and intensive erosion control effort where necessary.

The western end is more recreational and natural in character, and so here the plan looks at restoring and enhancing the natural and ecological values, letting natural processes continue, and providing opportunities for public enjoyment and education about these values.

The Motor Camp area serves primarily as a facility for visitors, also providing opportunities for recreation outside busy holiday periods.

Balancing needs

Satisfying different recreational, sporting and play activities while maintaining and enhancing the reserve is an aim of the plan, specifically:

  • Improving the flow of vehicles and pedestrians through the reserve.
  • Providing opportunities for a variety of recreational uses, and separating these where the potential for conflict exists.
  • Plantings that enhance the area, provide shade and shelter - look good, and do not create a public safety or fire hazard.
  • Managing animal and plant pests to protect landscape and natural values.
  • Developing further structures such as boardwalks and marked walking routes through the dunes and embayment to protect natural values.
  • Providing levels of facilities and commercial activity to suit a range of user needs and desires.
  • More play facilities for older children and youth.
  • Ensuring that facility design and management practices minimises risks of crime.
  • Connecting the Tahunanui retail area with the reserve more effectively through the provision of view shafts.

The working group that developed the plan included Councillors, iwi, volunteers and community groups, and also commercial and user groups.


The plan is available online for downloading below as PDF file, or can be viewed at ground floor reception Civic House and the Nelson Public Libraries.

Council has adopted a separate, related plan for the Tahunanui area - the Tahunanui Village Structure plan; it looks at the road layout in the Tahunanui retail area, as well as tools to improve the location of commercial activities and the design of the streetscape adjoining the reserve.

Home is a reserve

The Tahunanui reserve is not just sun and surf for people. The estuary is home to many different birds and fish, and some rare plants. From waders and herons, egrets and spoonbills to the estuarine tussock, the estuary is a wildlife habitat of outstanding value. It is also the only known site of the rare nocturnal back beach marine beetle. The beetle burrows on the edges of the vegetation at the high end of the spring tides and feeds at night.