Boaties Beware of Tairua Bar

Written by on December 2, 2022

By John Freer

Boaties using the Tairua Harbour bar over coming weeks are advised to exercise absolute caution due to a sand build up across the entrance.

A sand ridge has developed extending from the Tairua side, across to Pauanui, leaving less than 800mm of water at low tide. Subsequently, the channel has disappeared.

The warning has come from the Tairua Pauanui Fishing Club with its President, Warren Maher, a long-time local boatie himself, seeking to have signage placed on all ramps advising of the issue.

Maher yesterday sounded the warning which he said presented an accident waiting to happen. He said the sand ridge, would only disappear if a storm or major flood was able to force the sand away – and that did not look like happening this side of Christmas. Maher agreed that boaties were facing a highly dangerous scenario, saying he would not cross the bar at low tide.

Recently while taking his boat across the bar, in calm seas, he jumped overboard to check the depth.

“The water was less than 800mm deep. At low tide with a swell running, boats could have less than 200mm of water under their hull.”

Maher said earlier this week a launch had come across the bar two hours after high tide and hit the bottom, having to plough through the sand. The situation is not new having previously happened when sand was not moved either by storm water flowing out to sea, or a big easterly swell. Maher is urging extreme care and caution and asking for people to spread the word of the potential risk and seriousness of the situation.

Listen to our CFM interview with Warren Maher.

Reader's opinions
  1. Nick   On   January 15, 2023 at 5:04 pm

    The Tairua bar channel close to Paku has been shallow for the last couple of years getting progressively more difficult to cross. If it is improving after storms it is quickly reverting back to shallow. I crossed this bar frequently in varying conditions throughout the 90’s without issue, you could reliably follow the edge of Paku and it was large swells, not a shallow bar that caused problems. There appears to be more loose/soft sand inside the harbour now, especially between the harbour entrance and the marina where the sand was historically firm enough to drive on. Now it is very soft and presumably easy to wash into the entrance.

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