14 Jan 2020

Cape Kidnappers cottage still used by DOC staff, track remains closed

1:16 pm on 14 January 2020

A Hawke's Bay tour operator is questioning why Department of Conservation staff are allowed to use Cape Kidnappers cottage for holidays, when access to the site is closed to the public because of safety concerns.

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Photo: 123rf.com

Two Korean tourists were injured by a massive landslide along the Cape last January, closing the beach for commercial tours until just before Christmas.

While the reserve at the head of the peninsular is open, where a large gannet colony resides, DOC has closed the track from the beach to the reserve citing safety concerns.

This meant Gannet Beach Adventures could only offer a shortened version of its tour along the beach, but could not access the reserve at the end.

Tour operator Colin Lindsey said he could not understand why it was deemed safe for DOC staff to holiday there, when it wasn't safe for the public.

"If it's closed for visitor safety then shouldn't it be closed for everyone?

"I can understand if staff have to go out there for inspections, but if they are spending time out there with their family, including children ... that's just wrong."

DOC said it has kept the track from the beach to the gannet colony closed while it gets a Hastings District Council geotechnical report into the safety of the cliffs peer reviewed by GNS.

DOC Hawke's Bay operations manager Jenny Nelson-Smith said the cottage at Cape Kidnappers was owned by DOC but was on private land adjacent to the DOC reserve.

"The cottage is primarily used for work-related purposes, but can sometimes be booked for recreation when not being used for work. When DOC staff are staying at the cottage in any capacity, they also undertake maintenance work needed to keep the cottage functional.

"The reserve itself is not closed and can be accessed by private land with agreement from the landholders.

"It is the track from the beach to the reserve that has been closed by DOC while the Quantitative Risk Analysis report is reviewed and finalised.

"The QRA is being independently reviewed by GNS to ensure that we have a full understanding of the level of risk associated with the walk from Clifton to the reserve so that we can manage it effectively. Only at that point will we be comfortable to make a decision whether or not to reopen the track, and if so, under what conditions."

The only way for tourists to visit the gannet colony was if they got permission from the private land owner or took a bus tour with Gannet Safaris.

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