"Driving mistakes can quickly turn deadly", says Sharon Stewart, Auckland tour operator
Auckland tour operators want end to 'horrific' crashes on Muriwai Beach, 50km of black sand beach - one of the west coast Auckland beaches.
Although they don't happen often, when they do it is pretty horrible. You can get Auckland's beautiful, windswept, dangerous Muriwai Beach wrong before you even drive it. Simon Maude journalist for stuff.co.nz recently wrote an article advising visitors to proceed with caution if they think they can simply turn up and drive some of our majestic west coast Auckland beaches.
Once on the beach, driving mistakes can quickly turn deadly, according to 4WD specialists in Auckland tourism driving adventures on Auckland beaches.
Sharon Stewart said picking the right time to cruise the 50km-long long black sand west coast Auckland beach was just the first of several crucial do's and don'ts.
"I've attended some horrific crashes on the beach. We're constantly seeing Westpac Rescue Helicopters fly up here," former cop Roger Winslade and one of the Love My New Zealand tour hosts said.
The highly qualified off-road instructors with a combined 23 years off-roading experience run 4WD Auckland tours on Muriwai Beach and don't want to see any more "horrific" accidents and "amazingly stupid" behaviour from visitors who know nothing about how to drive on sand.
"I think the most important thing when driving on Muriwai Beach is to have a permit to drive on the beach," said Stewart. It automatically makes one think more about how you are going to prepare for a beach run just by applying for it and printing it.
The Auckland Council annual permit asks applicants to acknowledge they've read the emphasis-on-safety beach driving terms and conditions. Stewart's comments follow a police announcement they will be using hidden cameras to catch illegal and dangerous beach drivers.
"If people think nobody's watching they'll take the speed right up. They'll go extremely fast which is very, very dangerous. Your front wheel hits the wave, it feels like [the wave] has grabbed your steering wheel. Your natural instinct is to turn away and you roll - so stay well out of the water."
In recent years there have been vehicle fatalities on the beach including the deaths of four men when their 4WD rolled in 2015.
In 2007 one person was killed after a 4WD flipped on the beach and in 2004 three people died. There have also been several injuries and countless near-misses. Winslade, a former policeman, with more than 15 years' 4WD experience, sometimes gets called-in to help with serious beach crashes.
"We see some amazingly stupid activity, people standing on the roofs of cars while they're driving on Muriwai Beach to people being dragged on pieces of wood behind vehicles," Roger Winslade said.
Love My New Zealand carry a lot of recovery and emergency equipment for every journey including: Radios, Personal Locator Beacons, Max Tracks, Water, First Aid, Ropes, Shackles, Spades, Wet weather gear, Satellite phone, Food emergency supplies and Air compressors.
All of Love My New Zealand staff are highly trained. They also belong to the Land Rover Owners Club Auckland lroca.org.nz who have many years of combined off road experience - an opportunity to have fun safely and support it's members with good, safe and best practice on an ongoing basis.