Almost 200 people packed a community hall in Waihi Beach on Tuesday to hear how authorities will continue cleaning up containers and their contents washed ashore from the stricken ship Rena.
The container ship has been grounded on Astrolabe Reef off Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty since 5 October last year and finally broke into two pieces after heavy swells at the weekend.
Eighteen containers filled with milk powder and timber burst on the shoreline of beaches in the area on Monday.
Most Waihi Beach residents praised the speedy response by the salvage teams, but said they could not understand why they are not allowed back in the water.
Representatives for the major recovery organisations became flustered at the residents' constant questioning, telling them to use their common sense.
Residents were told just because debris is not obvious in the water, it does not mean it is not there.
Western Bay of Plenty Council chief executive Glenn Snelgrove also revealed that container salvage company Braemar Howells has voiced concern about the "stupidity" of some locals.
Mr Snelgrove said the company asked the council and police to close beaches in the area on Monday after its staff saw people trying to surf on containers and timber floating in the ocean.
Mr Snelgrove said the international company told him it is the most irresponsible behaviour staff have ever seen.
Police had said they closed the beaches because of reported thefts from containers.
Clean-up efforts will continue along the town's beaches from 9am on Wednesday.