24 Jan 2019

Kidnappers rockfall 'something we've feared will happen' - tourist operator

12:09 pm on 24 January 2019

The owner of Gannet Beach Adventures says he first warned the Department of Conservation about the dangers of walking along Cape Kidnappers in 2017.

An aerial shot of the slip in Hawke's Bay.

An aerial shot of the slip at Cape Kidnappers. Photo: Twitter / Levi Heaps

A 22-year-old female tourist is in a critical condition at Hawke's Bay Hospital and a 29-year-old man suffered a broken leg when they were swept into the ocean by rockfall yesterday afternoon.

The South Korean nationals were on the beach which is the access to Cape Kidnappers and is walkable at low tide.

A video taken by tourist Denis Birnie showed the collapse:

A Korea embassy official is on their way to the hospital to provide assistance to the injured pair.

The embassy said it received a request for help last night and has been in contact with the couple's parents, who live in South Korea.

It said the couple were in New Zealand on working holiday visas.

An embassy spokesperson said the woman would have surgery today and it was talking to immigration officials about extending her stay here, as it was anticipated she could be in hospital for up to two months.

Gannet Beach Adventures owner Colin Lindsay told Morning Report that while his company was aware of the dangers at Cape Kidnappers, those who walked in the area were not.

"Unfortunately the walkers that go out there are poorly informed and everyone would probably tell you the same anyway, it doesn't matter how much signage [there is] it doesn't always work.

"The current signage ... there's very little mention of those hazards.

"The newest signs to go up only mention the importance of considering the tide times for walking," he said.

Mr Lindsay said the rescue left him and his tour group shaken.

"[It's] something we've feared will happen and unfortunately it has come about before any action has been done to do more to prevent it happening."

Mr Lindsay said DOC began actively promoting Cape Kidnappers as a walking track in 2017.

"We were really surprised at that decision. We expressed our concerns about walker safety. We couldn't understand why they didn't sit down and talk with [us].

"I'm definitely looking forward to some conversations with DOC. Hopefully they will be making contact with me because we have expressed our concerns and we didn't get the response we would have liked, that doesn't mean we're correct, but those discussions will cover that."

DOC has closed the track where rockfall occurred.

A warning sign says the Cape Kidnappers Walking Track track is closed due to the risk to the public.

At a meeting between local authorities this morning it was decided to keep access to the beach closed for the foreseeable future.

Geotechnical engineers are on their way to assess the safety of the cliffs.

The engineers will arrive in Hawke's Bay from Christchurch today to survey the cliffs.