Earthworks and installation of “riprap”, or foundation stones, are being carried out on the beach this month before 1250 cubic metres of sand is brought in to rebuild the dune.
The carpark, which previously occupied the waterfront, has already been shifted to the corner of Lyall Parade and Cochrane Street, and the 27 spots are being well used by beach visitors.
Storms in 2013, and strong tides in 2015, caused widespread damage along Wellington’s south coast – prompting Wellington City Council to commission the work to protect the natural and built coastal infrastructure.
It meant reinstating a functioning sand dune at Surfers' Corner.
Council Open Spaces and Parks Manager Myfanwy Emeny says the work means parking infrastructure is being removed from the coastal environment.
“We are making the Lyall Bay beach more robust,” she says. “The previous asphalt carpark was actually very fragile when it got hit by the force of the sea, and the new sand dune should do a much better, and more natural, job of protecting the road and infrastructure.”
Council has budgeted just over $1.4 million for this piece of work, which is anticipated to be finished by the end of October.
A wide section of the community, including Kilbirnie-Lyall Bay-Rongotai Residents Association, Wellington Boardriders Club, and local surf clubs were all consulted about the work.
The aim is to retain as much beach and dune amenity, access and parking as possible. Wellington Mayor Justin Lester says once the project is finished, most of the work will be hidden by the sand dune and other works.
“All around Wellington we are doing similar resilience works, which once complete will almost disappear from view.
“Wellingtonians may not be able to see it, but the nearly $300 million we are spending on resilience is well worth it.”
The money is being spent on strengthening infrastructure to cope with climate change, disasters and population increase putting more pressure on services, the Mayor says.
Southern Ward Councillor David Lee, who holds the climate change portfolio, says rising sea levels and storm surge has shown the vulnerability of the city’s coastline.
Coastal fortification is necessary to protect infrastructure, public and private assets, and access to the coast, he says.
“With more extreme weather events hitting us, we can’t afford to lose large chunks of coast to the sea. A natural solution such as the dune, which is an active and moving part of the beach, is a smart way to maintain Surfers' Corner.”