Cape Kidnappers walkway to remain closed after cliff rockfall

Hawke's Bay District Council doesn't know when or if a walkway where two tourists were badly injured will reopen.

A massive rockfall swept the Korean pair off the path and into the ocean at Cape Kidnappers on Wednesday.

Yet locals say it's been a risky walk for years - and now there are calls for more education around the dangers of walking along Cape Kidnappers.

"We saw the cliff collapse and a huge great big cloud of dust went into the air," a witness said.

The injured woman remains in a critical condition at Hawke's Bay Hospital, and the man she was with has a broken leg.  

The walk to the gannet colony is popular with tourists, and it's even promoted as a day hike by the Department of Conservation (DoC). 

Local motor camp owner Bob Pollock says the track has been a risk for years and visitors aren't taking notice of the warning signs.

"They get all excited and think it's just a walk in the park - but it's dangerous, and we've had slips for years," Mr Pollock says. 

One of the main concerns is that walkers are poorly informed of the dangers at Cape Kidnappers.

And while there is signage, there is very little mention of potential hazards - only addressing the importance of checking the tide times.

Tour groups that operate in the area often travel by tractor, such is the rough terrain below the cliff face. 

"You need to be watching all the time for slips the rocks on the cliff. That cliff falls, and they need to be warned to stay well off the cliff," Mr Pollock says. 

DoC has shut access to the beach temporarily, but says it doesn't manage the beach section where the cliff collapsed.

On Thursday, council engineers were checking the entire cliff face.

"We need to assess either side of the existing slip to see whether the slip itself has made other parts of the cliff dangerous to know whether there's something different in that area puts people in danger," Hawke's Bay District Council acting chief executive Neil Taylor says.

The council doesn't want to see access to this wild part of the coast cut off for good, but has to ensure it's safe before the walkway can reopen.


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