Beaches & Estuary

Waimakariri is lucky to have great beaches and the beautiful Ashley-Rakahuri Estuary.

Kairaki Beach and The Pines Beach are accessed via coastal car parks, and are situated at the southern end of the District, close to the mouth of the Waimakariri River.

Further north, roads lead to Woodend Beach and the coastal dune area beyond Pegasus Town.

Waikuku Beach settlement is the gateway to the Waikuku Beach Surf Life Saving Club swimming beach and the Ashley-Rakahuri River mouth and estuary area.

The Northern Pegasus Bay Bylaw

It's important that we look after these areas and make sure everyone can enjoy them safely, so we have worked closely with the community to develop the Northern Pegasus Bay Bylaw 2016.  Some key changes were made, so before heading out to enjoy the District’s beautiful beaches, there are a few important things to be aware of.

These are summarised below, in this video series, or read the full bylaw pdf, 19.8 MB.

Key changes

  • Recreational horse riding and dogs are not allowed on the Ashley River/Rakahuri Estuary
  • Dogs need to be on a lead around horses if not able to be effectively voice controlled
  • Recreational driving or driving for the pleasure of driving is not allowed on the Districts beaches
  • Two-wheel motorbikes are not allowed on the Districts beaches
  • Other vehicle restrictions apply – refer to the section on vehicles below for more information.

Swimming at the Beach

Surf Life Saving crews patrol at Waikuku, and also cover Woodend Beach and Pegasus Beach during the peak summer season.

The public are advised to swim at these locations

Vehicles on the Beach


Two wheel motorbikes are prohibited from all beaches and dunes along the Northern Pegasus Bay Coastal strip.

Quad Bikes

Quad bikes are permitted to drive on the beach as they are classified as a motor vehicle. They can't be used for recreational driving or driving for pleasure, they must be legal to drive on the road and follow the rules for Driving On The Beach as detailed below.

Driving On The Beach

For the safety and enjoyment of all users, and to protect special wildlife areas, there are areas along the northern Pegasus Bay coastal strip where vehicles are prohibited or restricted. Check out the map (pdf, 3.5 MB) to view the areas you can and can’t go before heading out.

Here are some of the key things you need to know before taking your vehicle to the Northern Pegasus Bay beaches:

  • Recreational driving or driving for pleasure is not permitted on any area of the Northern Pegasus Bay coastal strip.
  • To protect our fragile coastal dune system, vehicles are not permitted to drive on any dunes in Northern Pegasus Bay
  • All vehicles must drive below the last high tide mark, unless it’s unsafe to do otherwise, except at the Waimakariri River Mouth or using a speciifed access route.
  • Vehicles must give way and show consideration to people, horses, other animals and birds at all times
  • Approved four wheel drive clubs may obtain exemptions which allow them to drive on prohibited or restricted areas of the beach for civil defence or rescue training, and for track, beach or facility maintenance, rubbish removal and pest control
  • No vehicles are to drive through a flagged surf lifesaving patrol area
  • Speed limits apply, you should drive no faster than 30km/h and slow down to 10km/h when within 50 metres of people.
  • Access from the Waimakariri District’s northern boundary at Ashworth’s Beach to the Ashley – Rakahuri Estuary is only for the purpose of boat launching or retrieval, fishing, white baiting and mahinga kai gathering.
  • Access from the Waimakariri River Mouth to the Pines Ocean Outfall is for the above purposes as well as taking recreation equipment to the water's edge and for holders of mobility stickers.
  • Vehicle access is available from the Ashley – Rakahuri River Mouth car park to the Ashkey – Rakahuri River mouth during the whitebait season.  This access is by permit only with permits being available from the Waimakariri District Council’s Customer Service team.

And remember, the beach is a road, all the road rules and the law still apply in these areas.

More Information

Dogs on the Beach


Dogs are welcome on most beaches and areas of the Northern Pegasus Bay coastal strip. However to protect ecological values and bird habitat around the Ashley River/Rakahuri estuary and wetlands, dogs are not allowed in that area.

Here are some other key things you need to know before exercising your dog at the beach:

  • Dogs are not allowed in the areas between surf patrol flags or within 50 metres of the flags
  • Dogs must be under continuous and effective control at all times
  • Dogs which are unable to be under effective voice control around horses must be on a leash
  • Carry plenty of poo bags to pick up after your dog

More Information:

Horse Riding & Training

Horse Riding

For people wishing to ride and train horses on the beach, there are horse float parking areas provided at the end of Ferry Road in Woodend Beach, and at the southern end of Waikuku Beach settlement, off Reserve Road.

To view float parking locations, beach access areas and areas that are prohibited for horse riding and training, view the horse access map (pdf, 4.3 MB).

  • You should avoid riding through flagged surf patrol areas.
  • Horse riding is no longer permitted in the Ashley River/Rakahuri Estuary area.
  • Stick to the designated horse trails and give way to pedestrians.
  • Stay below the last high-tide mark when riding on the beach, unless using a designated access trail.
  • To find out where you can ride your horse in the Waimakariri, visit our Equestrian activities page.

Commercial Horse Training

Commercial horse training on Woodend Beach is subject to a user agreement. Find out more in the user agreement brochure pdf, 4.2 MB

More Information

Kite Surfing & Land Yachts

Kite Surfing

The Northern Pegasus Bay Bylaw 2016 restricts kite surfing in the Ashley River/Rakahuri Estuary to a designated area. Within this there is a launch area, transit area and main riding area.

Kite surfing is prohibited in all other Ashley/ Rakahuri and Saltwater Creek estuarine areas.

  • Stay clear of bird feeding areas in shallow water or exposed mudflats at low tide
  • Stay clear of dry shingle, driftwood, sand banks or islands where birds might be nesting or roosting
  • Only use the kite surfing transition area for moving to and from the launch area to the main riding area or the ocean
  • Stay 50 metres away from the north- west bank & 25 metres from the south-west bank of the Ashley River/Rakahuri Estuary at all times

Land Yachting

Land yachting has become a popular beach activity, and there is a designated area allowing for this activity.

Land yachts are prohibited between the beach entrance of the Waikuku Beach horse float car park access trail and the districts northern boundary. View the land yacht access map pdf, 2.0 MB for more details

More Information

Kite Surfing in the Ashley-Rakahuri Estuary - Video (YouTube)

Kite Surfing User Agreement Brochure & Area Map (pdf, 5.0 MB)

Land Yacht Access Map (pdf, 2.0 MB)

The Ashley/Rakahuri Estuary


The Ashley-Rakahuri Estuary is a special place in our district and home to a lot of rare and endangered birdlife.

The Northern Pegasus Bay Bylaw 2016 is in place to ensure wildlife and the natural environment are not harmed and ensure everyone can enjoy the area's natural beauty.

To protect the estuary, the following activities are prohibited.

  • Dogs (If walking on the nearby stop bank, please use a leash)
  • Horses
  • Land yachts
  • Drones and model aircraft
  • Taking off and landing microlights and helicopters
  • No vehicles, unless you have a permit to use the access track in the whitebait season

It is a restricted area for kite surfing and there is a 5 knot speed limit for water craft.

View the access map (pdf, 7.4 MB)for more details on where the prohibitions apply.

More Information

Camping & Fires


Camping, including freedom camping is not allowed in the dunes or beaches of Northern Pegasus Bay. View the map showing where camping is prohibited.

Have you seen our Freedom Camping Brochure (pdf, 794.5 KB)?  This shows you all the places that you can safely freedom camp in our district


Open fires in Northern Pegasus Bay and on the beaches are by permit only, this includes bonfires, braziers and charcoal bbq's.