Access to a 1.7km section of beach on the Pencarrow Coast has been restricted temporarily to help protect the nesting site of a rare New Zealand bird.
The restriction was put in place today by Taranaki Whanui kaumatua on Pencarrow Coast Rd between the lighthouse and the eastern end of Lake Kohangapiripiri beach, where a small colony of banded dotterel are trying to breed above the high tide mark.
Wellington Regional Council environmental scientist Nikki McArthur says the colony is one of the largest of only a handful of coastal breeding colonies in the Wellington region, with about 20 pairs on the site.
"Unfortunately this population is under considerable pressure at the moment, with only 3 percent of nests successfully hatching chicks over the past two years."
Vehicle access along the 9km Pencarrow Coast Rd and walking access to and around the lighthouse is still possible, but the public have been asked to keep to the road and walking on the beach below the high tide mark.
Ms McArthur says dotterel nests are hard to spot and the restrictions will stay in place until February.