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Access to Water

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Tauranga’s new tidal stairs, pier and pontoon are now open!

The waterfront’s new tidal stairs, pier and pontoon are now built and ready for people to enjoy. Head down and dip your toes in the water, enjoy a coffee or a bite to eat from the local shops while sitting on the steps and soak up Tauranga’s beautiful harbour. A karakia and story about Tauranga has been built into the stairs and you will be able to see different parts of this depending on the tide level. Wander along the new pier and enjoy the fantastic view across the water, but remember Surf Lifesaving New Zealand’s water safety messages - check the water conditions first if you want to go swimming. Please also keep children away from the car parking area and watch out for trains.

A karakia and poetry have been sandblasted into the tidal stairs and carefully painted in colours reflecting the surrounding environment. The beautiful Karakia o Mauao etched into the tidal steps, which approved for this use by local tangata whenua, tells of how the mountain arrived at its present home at the water’s edge and how the features of the land and harbour were formed on its journey. The poem etched alongside the Karakia, written by artist Elliot Collins in English, tells a different story of the feeling and experiences you have on the waterfront now.

Waterfront imageWaterfront image 1
21 February 2017

Learn more about the history of this area

We have installed a story board where you can learn all about the history of the waterfront and The Strand area. The interpretation signs show a timeline of how this area developed and its importance in Tauranga’s history. Come down to the waterfront and browse the interesting display of our history.

Waterfront Art Image

Designing for safety

A comprehensive safety and risk review of the design has been undertaken, this review was led by Attwood Consulting. Attwood Consulting Ltd is one of New Zealand’s leading waterfront and marine environment safety and risk advisors. They have provided safety review and advice to Waterfront Auckland for the Wynyard Quarter and Westhaven Marina developments for a number of years. 

Safety of users has been, and is being, considered throughout this project to build new tidal stairs, pier and pontoon at Tauranga’s waterfront. The following safety features are being incorporated into the facilities:

  • Information signs about the risks and water flows
  • Navigation signs for boat movements
  • Anti-slip treatment and regular maintenance and cleaning of the tidal stairs
  • Handrail and rescue equipment on the pier
  • Ladders from the water to the pontoon
  • Clearance of 2 metres from the jump platform to the pontoon
  • Lighting at night on the pier and pontoon
  • Safety gate to the pontoon and jump platform similar to a swimming pool gate to restrict access for young children
  • Motorised boats restricted to the outside areas only

A hydrological study of the water flows past the site has been completed by the University of Waikato. This study shows that the tidal flow in the vicinity of the shore where the tidal stairs will be is approximately half the speed of walking. At a point 30 metres out from the existing seawall  (the pier is 24 metres long) the tidal flow is a maximum of 1.8km/hr for the peak incoming and outgoing flows. This report is available online.

A jump platform has been designed to provide for controlled jumping activities from the pier. This has a safety gate on it and (based on survey information) will allow a maximum jump height of 3 metres into 2.3 metres of water.


Elected Members gave the green light to the project at a Council meeting on 15 December 2015, following feedback from the community, iwi and water users on the proposed concept.

The indicative cost for building the proposed tidal stairs, Masonic pier and pontoon ranges between $2.6 million and $3.2 million. These costs will be refined once the detailed design is completed.  The detailed design stage will consider engineering, safety, ongoing maintenance and resource consent requirements, as well as how to reflect Tauranga’s unique identity.

Council’s Long Term Plan 2015-2025 allocated $8 million, to be spent in the first five years, for city centre and waterfront development to improve the streetscape, waterfront and open spaces in the heart of the city.

The access to water project has been developed in parallel with the Tauranga City Centre Spatial Framework – a visual representation of what we want our public spaces and streets, and waterfront to be. A big part of this is the reconnection with water and access to the water.

City Centre Spatial Framework

Mayor Stuart Crosby said being able to access the water was important to the community. “Feedback from the community on the concept via Facebook, our have your say email, at the Tauranga Marine Show and in conversations with Council staff and Elected Members was an overwhelming ‘yes please, go ahead and make it happen. This will be a new dimension for our waterfront. I am confident this is the right decision for our waterfront development.”

Last Reviewed: 27/04/2017