Buffalo Beach Toilet

During the month of November 2017 and January 2018 we sought feedback on a new public toilet by Mother Browns Creek.

The proposal is to provide a toilet close to the creek and BBQ area (location 1) as this is very popular with young families and people using the BBQ during the peak summer period.

From the feedback received it was proposed that while Browns Creek was heavily used in the peak summer period, actually, the area to the south (Location 2) was used heavily as well, and more all year round.

Other points raised in favour of location 2 included:

  • Further away from the busy intersection
  • Already has off road vehicle parking (could accommodate larger freedom campers)
  • Away from the flood area• Opposite surf road so less impact on adjoining residentsA toilet in this location, would make it approximately 650m from the existing toilet by Halligan Road and 160m from Mother Browns Creek. 
  • The Mercury Bay Community Board wish to gather further information before making a final decision on any new toilet. 
  • Your feedback on the site you would prefer is sought to inform the Community Board when it makes its decision.

Buffalo Beach feedback form #2 

(Click images to expand exisiting view vs proposed photographic simulation)

The proposed toilet facility: 

  • Is fit-for-purpose facility for users of the picnic and swimming area at Taputapuatea stream
  • Location close to the picnic, parking and swimming areas
  • Located in a position which provides the best outcome of a low profile, small building footprint to reduce visual impact
  • Landscaping in keeping with the dune environment
  • Location and design which minimises anti-social behaviour
  • A single pan toilet, fully-accessible design, with limited changing facilities for users of the area
  • Finished floor, above flood level

Alternative locations considered

Please see business case document for further information on the right of the page.

Other Considerations

Liquor Ban - A liquor ban is in force on the reserve over summer. Actively monitored by Council's enforcement team and police. Residents can contact Council on our 24-hour service line: 07 868 0200 Toilet design should be visible to park users to discourage anti-social behaviour.

Freedom Camping - Freedom Camping is prohibited along Buffalo Beach and Brophy Beach. Designated parks at the Buffalo Beach toilet facility have been provided for freedom camping.

Lighting - Internal lighting is provided, no external lighting is needed as toilets will be closed after dark.

Hours of operation - Toilets will be manually locked at the same time as the other facilities and won't be open over night.

Vandalism - Siting a toilet in a visible location is the key to deterring vandalism A Graffiti coating can be applied to limit visual impact Lighting and appropriate landscaping can also deter vandalism.


Buffalo Beach in Whitianga and its surrounds has been continuously occupied by humans for more than a thousand years since Maori explorer Kupes' tribe settled after visiting around 950 AD. 

The people of Hei settled in the sheltered waters of the Mercury Bay, and Cook later sheltered here when he came in November 1769.

Over time Mercury Bay and the township of Whitianga has grown and evolved. In Pre-human times the Mercury Bay Coastal foreshore would have been covered by native sand grasses with back dunes having a more diverse mix of shrubs and trees.

Given the history of human inhabitants, trade and use, the Mercury Bay Beach and foreshore has been altered from its natural state for 1,000 years or more. Whitianga was a centre for boat building, kauri milling, flax milling, gold mining and gum digging.

The Reserve

Council records provide a rich history about the use of the Buffalo beach reserve in the vicinity of the proposed toilet location.

The reserve was Gazetted as a Recreation Reserve in 1959 to the Coromandel County Council. Due to the Taputaputea stream location, the site has been historically very popular for beach access and families with younger children, providing a safe option for swimming. The picnic area and BBQ have been provided as supporting infrastructure for the heavy use by families in this vicinity.

2003 2015

Aerial photos above (click to expand) 2003 vs 2015, show that the picnic tables have been around for at least 15 years. Historically vehicles have parked alongside Buffalo Beach road, with parking facilitated next to the picnic and BBQ area delineated by a line of bollards.

Overall the reserve is well-used by the community including families, locals and visitors alike, due to safe swimming in the Taputaputea stream.