Proposed East Coast Beach Vehicle Bylaw


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Proposed East Coast Beach Vehicle Bylaw

Go to our Hearings Information web page


The Kaikōura earthquake uplifted the East Coast in November 2016, raising it by up to 2.5 metres in the area between the Awatere and Waima/Ure rivers (48.5km). In places where access was previously restricted by tides, it’s now possible to walk or drive at any time. The area is known for its cultural significance to multiple iwi, including statutory claims and other longstanding connections.

Council agreed to explore a new bylaw in December 2019 and has spent the past year talking with iwi, community groups and others with an interest in the coast. In recent months, councillors have received reports and updates on the progress of the proposed bylaw, including alternatives to a vehicle ban, to protect public safety and the East Coast ecosystems.

While alternatives have been considered - such as relying on education to reduce speed, keeping to designated routes or types of vehicles allowed - the bylaw proposal will centre on a vehicle ban on the beaches, reefs and dunes between the Awatere and Waima/Ure river mouths. More than half of this stretch of this coastline (28.5km of the total 48.5km) is recognised as ecologically significant.

The Council recognises that water and recreation are central to the quality of life in Marlborough, which is why this proposal considers the cultural, recreational, economic, scientific and ecological role of the area. The aim of the bylaw is continued use of the coastal area in a way that restores and conserves it for future generations.

The proposed bylaw responds to public safety concerns about increased use of the coastal area, coupled with unexpected discoveries by scientists following the Kaikōura earthquake. The dramatic change to Marlborough’s East Coast has been the biggest transformation observed as a result of any global earthquake in modern times. The high tide mark shifted as much as 200 metres, leaving more exposed beach. In places where access was previously restricted by tides, it is now possible to walk or drive at any time. The damage caused by the quake, coupled with the increased access, has led to mounting pressure on the area’s unique ecosystem.


November 2016

The Kaikōura earthquakes dramatically changes Marlborough’s eastern coastline. Increased access to areas previously restricted by tides leads to increased use around Cape Campbell.


Members of the community approach Council with concerns about public safety and ecological damage. Following the quake, the science community also ramps up research activity along the coastline and quake-damaged areas.

July 2018

Council and Department of Conservation hold a Technical Advice Workshop, bringing experts together to advise on biodiversity, ecological values, legal issues, and the historical and recreational context.

June 2019

A corrected technical report (Version 2) was updated from the initial version previously released in March 2019.

November 2019

A revised technical report and report on alternatives are released by Council, and the Planning, Finance and Community Committee discusses a bylaw to protect the area.

December 2019

Full Council agrees to explore a vehicle bylaw with the objective of protecting East Coast ecosystems and enhancing public safety.


Council talks with iwi, community groups and others with an interest in the coast.

December 2020

Full Council unanimously agrees to proceed with a proposal to ban most vehicle use and delegates the finalising of the draft bylaw to a subcommittee to continue work over the summer break.

June 2021

Councillors vote unanimously to move forward with the Bylaw process and open public submissions soon.

Consultation is delayed due to procedural matters, and Council plans to hold an extraordinary meeting on 8 July.

Read media statement: Consultation delayed for Draft East Coast Beach Vehicle Bylaw

July 2021

An extraordinary full Council meeting was held, including revised documents and a Technical Report (Version 5). Councillors vote unanimously to move forward and open consultation 15 July 2021.

The public was encouraged to participate in the bylaw process and make a submission from 15 July 2021 to 8 September 2021.

September 2021

Submissions opened 15 July 2021 and closed 8 September 2021.

Submissions are available for viewing:

Go to the submissions page for the Proposed East Coast Vehicle Bylaw

November 2021

A hearings panel was appointed with two independent commissioners and one Councillor. The panel will consider public submissions and make a recommendation to Council on the proposed bylaw.

Go to media statement: Panel appointed to consider East Coast bylaw submissions

  • Hearings Information

    Information about the November 2021 public hearings, including panel members and meeting minutes