Dunes and sandspits

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Native sand dune plant communities are now sadly extinct in the Nelson area due to invasion by exotic vegetation, especially marram.

However, there are extensive efforts to restore dunes at Tahunanui Beach and Kokorua Spit, north of Nelson. Other Nelson dunes and sandspits, only accessible by boat, are at Delaware Inlet and Omakau and Oananga Bay, near Cape Souci.  

Tahunanui Beach is a reasonably recent formation – it was formed in the 1850s by the redistribution of sand after the collapse of a sandbar in the Waimea Inlet. Aerial photos taken since the 1930s show the beach is constantly changing - local history website The Prow has more information.  The beach is prone to erosion and will be affected by climate change and sea-level rise. A community coast care programme has worked to protect the dunes since 2005, using sand trapping barriers and vegetation.