'Extremely concerned' - DOC to review safety of walks after it ignored safety warnings at Cape Kidnappers

The Department of Conservation is reviewing the safety of all of its Great Short and Day walks after it flouted safety warnings about Cape Kidnappers.

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The Conservation Department's Steven Taylor says hazards were identified outside the public conservation site at Cape Kidnappers. Source: 1 NEWS

The move comes after documents revealed to 1 NEWS showed slips and rockfalls at Cape Kidnappers were identified as an "unacceptable risk" by risk assessments in 2009 and 2017.

Despite those, the five-hour day walk from Clifton in Hastings to the famous gannet colony was promoted as one of the DOC’s great day and short walks. 

The walk along the beach beside towering cliff faces has come under the microscope after two Korean tourists narrowly escaped death in a massive slip which came down in January, sweeping them out to sea.

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Son Jungho talked with 1 NEWS reporter Sean Hogan. Source: 1 NEWS

The walk been closed until further notice by the Hastings District Council until a geotechnical report is received.

Full geotechnical assessments of the beachside cliffs, which aren’t Department of Conservation land, was recommended in a report by engineering firm OPUS, however none were completed.

Steven Taylor, DOC’s Director of Heritage and Visitors told 1 NEWS that he is “extremely concerned” by the failure to acknowledge the warnings. 

“The hazards that were identified outside of the public conservation site, outside of the land administered by DOC, should certainly have been taken into account in this decision more proactively then it was. That’s certainly my view and we will be looking to make sure that that is the case in the future," he said.

The promotion was expected to triple the number of visitors to the track every year, which was already estimated to have 25,000 visits annually.

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Experts have been brought in to assess the coastline above Cape Kidnappers. Source: 1 NEWS

Mr Taylor says they need to review the signage and warnings in place on the track.

“With increasing numbers we have to review the impact that the increasing numbers will have and also ensure we are informing visitors of what the risks might be in the location.”

He said: “There are things we should be doing more proactively in these sorts of situations to avoid this sort of hazard occurring.”

Hastings District Council is expected to receive and review the interim geotechnical report next Tuesday.