Nearly six weeks after the oil spill from the Rena restricted access to many Tauranga beaches, most of them will be cleared for use from early on Wednesday morning.[image:3760:half:right]
The restrictions on access to the majority of beaches between Tay St in Mount Maunganui and Maketu Estuary will no longer apply, but with two exceptions.
The first is a section of beach from Harrison's Cut, past the Papamoa Surf Lifesaving Club to Alexandra Place.
The second section that is still closed to public access is the Maketu Spit.
Both these areas require further clean-up work.
Dr Jim Miller from the Bay of Plenty District Health Board says the public health risk from going onto the newly opened beach areas and swimming has now been assessed as negligible.
But he says people should still exercise caution.
Dr Miller suggests those using the beaches should be on the look-out for patches of oil and tar balls and stay from them, especially if they are with young children, who may not be so vigilant.
The rahui put in place by iwi that prohibits the collection of kaimoana between Bowen Town and Maketu is still in place.
Residents happy to have beaches back
Residents along the coastline are pleased to be able to have access to their beaches again.
One, Mt Maunganui resident Eric Maxfield, says his daughter - who's currently overseas - has been worried about the state of the beaches at home.
He says she's been asking him what's happening with the beach and if she will be able to body board. "I say, yeah, it looks great."