Omaha Beach, New Zealand, is located just an hour’s drive north of Auckland and 15 minutes east of Warkworth. Omaha Beach is on the edge of ‘Matakana Wine Country’ and 15 vineyards can be reached within 15 minutes drive. The attractions of Goat Island marine reserve, Pakiri beach and the ARC Tawharanui Regional Park are at our doorstep.
A beautiful white sandy beach, clean air, crystal clear waters and uninterrupted gulf and island views greet the intrepid wanderer. Surfers and windsurfers appreciate Omaha Beach which is carefully monitored by lifeguards. Omaha Beach is a great location for water-skiers, the recreational fisher or diver with good boat-launching facilities and a protected all-tides harbour that provides safe swimming for children. A championship 18 hole golf course, tennis courts, bowling greens, kid’s playgrounds, reserves and walking tracks complete the family activities that round out this idyllic coastal playground.
Only minutes away from Omaha Beach there are cafes, restaurants, galleries, vineyards, farmers’ markets and the charming town of Matakana.
While Omaha Beach started as a beach resort, as many as 200 families now call Omaha Beach their permanent home. Residents and weekenders alike enjoy the collective sense of our community in a relaxed and stylish manner. Omaha Beach benefits from its own microclimate quite different from that of Auckland.
In the late 1960s Omaha Spit was considered an ideal place for a holiday resort. Plans were drawn up and put before the council. This raised a storm of protest from the surrounding locals. The project was passed after the council decided to put Omaha into a special rating area, and work started.
The developers wanted this area to look like a Pacific Island so they decided to build a sea wall to retain the sand. The sea wall was about 1000 yards long. The sand would be back-filled to the top of the wall. Cabbage trees were to be used to simulate coconut trees. The developers sacked the engineer for saying the wall would be taken by the sea. The second engineer said yes to the project. From then on the earthworks began.
A causeway and bridge were built for access to the spit. Power and telephone wires, water and sewerage lines were laid underground and two lights were used on Omaha Drive.
Easter, 1971, the first sections went on sale. A sales house was built to show prospective buyers the minimum size that could be built under the code laid down in the sales documents.
Sewerage: Flush toilets were used, this effluent going into two holding tanks. The contents were taken by tanker to Snells Beach. Omaha has its own treatment plant now in Jones Road.
Water: Not laid-on water for a start. Council required interim tanks while they investigated the various sources of water. Later on they provided piped water from an on-site bore. A float valve had to be installed into the tank, set to maintain 1000 litres in the tank regardless of rain. This arrangement lasted a few years, then Council told the community they were doing away with the system. A heavy demand for larger tanks followed, so now every house has to install rain water tanks.
Up to 1987 a series of storms tested the sea wall. The wall was undermined so much that the only house on the foreshore had to have rock carted in and placed around it to protect it. When the big storm of 1978 took place the sea wall disappeared, and only a few posts remained standing. The rocks around the foreshore house remained. This was shifted to higher ground (on the seaward corner of Kitty Fraser and Darroch Slope).
After the storm the council wanted to place the ratepayers of Omaha, Point Wells and the bordering property owners on a special rating bill. These people would be rated for all the work to be done to restore and make improvements. The people rose up against the proposal. Council took the people to court and the people won.
After the storm, no bank would lend on Omaha properties so the value of the sections slumped so much that a $12,000 section was being resold for $4000. It remained so, for a few years. Later the rise began and has clearly not slowed down.
The next move was to bring in a sand dredge and dump sand out of the inner channel onto the seaward side of the spit. They also built a lot of rock groynes for protection. All this took place at the end of the spit.
The next move was to protect the area where the sea wall was. A meeting between the council and ratepayers took place on site. Council wanted to rate us for the work without any idea of cost. Council again failed. Council and the developers got together and came up with a scheme whereby the development would lend the money to the council, so a sunken rock groyne is now beneath the sand.
The road from Omaha Flats Road to the causeway was not sealed. The last third was prone to flooding and needed attention. A ratepayer, who was a council elected member, asked another ratepayer – what are we going to do to improve this road. The reply was, “It’s easy”. “Tell me,” the councillor said. “You present a full statement of all facts, costs, other items like where the money is coming from.” The councillor went ahead and presented it to the council. It was duly passed by the council and the only changes they made were instead on one lump sum of $156 they would pay it in two instalments of $75.
About this time the council banned any more buildings past Success Court. The council wanted a site for sewerage and the developers wanted to sell the remaining sites.
At this stage the two parties had talks. The outcome was the council buying the golf course and the developers were given permission to develop the outer end of the spit. The treated water is now fed back to the new golf course to water the fairways.
In 1979 a tree planting programme was started. This took six years and was stopped. There was a stand against street lighting and it took several petitions to get it started again. Even today Omaha Drive lacks decent lighting, and also a footpath alongside of Omaha Drive.
During the years Omaha had a surplus fund of over 1 million dollars. Council had their eye on this fund and wanted to do away with the special rating. They soon found out that the money had to be spent in Omaha.
This is why Omaha has services other areas have not. These services are: Golf course, improved tennis courts, community centre, sewerage disposal, help for surf lifesaving club and improvements to W. Fraser Reserve. It should be noted that the Community centre is a resource available for all Omaha owners – it is not just a golf club.
By this time the spit was being developed. Then in the late 1990s the southern end was in the planning stage, as was also the making of the golf course to 18 holes. This new golf course is watered by two systems. The green is from a bore and the fairways by treated sewerage. The end result is a fantastic golf course that keeps improving every year.
Now into 2015, the Omaha Community is undergoing its next major change to accommodate permanent families who are attracted by the good schooling and lifestyle options the area offers. It is expected that this trend will continue as the new state highway improvements will effectively reduce the Auckland commute to just 45 minutes.