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Hawke's Bay tour operator fed up over delays to gannet colony re-opening, as DOC staff use site for holidays

A Hawke's Bay tourism operator is fed up with delays on the re-opening of a popular track to a major gannet colony, while conservation staff use the area for holidays.

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It’s been closed since early last year, after two tourists were injured in a landslide. Source: 1 NEWS

Two Korean tourists were injured by a massive landslide along Cape Kidnappers last January.

Colin Lindsey from Gannet Beach Adventures tractor tours helped with the rescue, a memory which is hard to forget.

“It’s one of those ones that still comes back,” he told 1 NEWS. “The mental stress of it all is huge.”

That’s compounded by his seasonal tours only just getting back up and running.

But punters only get to see one group of birds on the shortened tour. “We are taking in revenue but we know that our numbers are down.”

The beach where the slip occurred was reopened to walkers last year.

But the Department of Conservation looks after the reserve at the head of the peninsula, where the largest gannet colony is.

And it's kept the stretch of the public footpath, used to access the colony, closed.

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

“It's a little a bit like opening a water park and not letting people go on the slides,” Mr Lindsey says.

DOC says it is reviewing the safety of the path.

Only after the risk assessment is peer reviewed by GNS will DOC make a decision on re-opening the track to the public.

They say visitor safety is their top priority.

Meanwhile, a hut on the blocked-off land has been used by DOC staff to holiday in over summer. Much to the frustration of Mr Lindsey.

"If it’s not good enough for the public, how is it good enough for staff and their families?”

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The move means Hastings District Council could now face legal action if anyone else is hurt in a slip. Source: 1 NEWS

DOC says the reserve is still open, but visitors need to cross private land to get there.

Local MP Lawrence Yule says the department needs to act faster.

“DOC needs to be more sensitive, particularly to this business. This is having major impacts for them through no fault of their own.”

It's unclear when DOC will make a decision to reopen the track.

But even then it might not be enough to keep Mr Lindsey's tractor tours rolling.