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Beach Monitoring: Cam-era

The Cam-era project uses computer-controlled video cameras to monitor the coastal environment, while also providing images for beach-goers, such as surfers and swimmers. The Waikato Regional Council owns three cameras in a small network that has been established since this project started in August 1997.

These three cameras collect images every hour to monitor changes at Tairua and Raglan. The images can be used for researching beach processes such as waves, beach erosion and rip currents. These images are a great way to check out the local conditions at these beaches, including wave conditions and rips.

Click the images below to see the latest data from each of our Cam-era sites.

Tairua Ocean Beach

Raglan Harbour Entrance

Raglan Shoreline - Ngarunui

 Tairua Cam-era  Raglan Harbour Entrance  Raglan Camera B site

Cam-era as a Research Tool

There is a range of information that can be gathered from images collected by the beach monitoring cameras. 

Shoreline Mapping

Cam-era images can be used to gather information about shoreline position and beach width (the distance between dune crest and the high tide line).  Beach width provides a measure of the 'health' of a beach. This information can contribute to the Council's wider programme of shoreline change monitoring, which is critical for the management of coastal erosion hazard, including defining coastal development setbacks and planning for coastal hazard management activities (such as beach nourishment or structures).

Cam-Era collects and analyses averaged images every hour, so that, every day, at each high tide, the position of the dune crest and the shoreline can be evaluated. More detail on how Cam-era images are used to detect shoreline position can be found on NIWA's website.

Rip Currents

Rip currents are currents that travel away from the shore, starting in the surfzone and broadening outside the breaking region. Rip currents can be very strong, and they pose significant dangers to beachgoers, as they can pull even the strongest swimmers into deep water. Cam-era images can be used to identify the location of rip currents, and to study and better understand the processes that drive their formation.

Studies by NIWA and the University of Waikato have explored ways to use Cam-era images to better understand the behaviour of rip currents at Tairua and Raglan. One study correlated offshore modelled wave data with the observed occurence of rip currents at Tairua beach and identified links between wave height and the presence or absence of rips. Click here to learn more.