Police are increasing patrols along Marine Parade in Napier at night after a 29-year-old woman was reportedly sexually assaulted there early yesterday.
Police said the alleged assault occurred near the old Marineland complex some time between 3.30am and 5am.
District Command Centre Senior Sergeant Dan Foley said patrols in the area would be increased and he urged individuals and groups who are out at night to stay together whenever possible.
"Be aware of your environment. Make sure you stay with friends. Try not to get separated. Be aware of strangers. Keep yourself safe."
He also encouraged running during daylight hours to minimise risk.
Mr Foley said police would also like to speak to the member of the public who handed a bank card belonging to the victim into the Napier Police later that morning. This is to identify where it was found.
Napier Mayor Bill Dalton said he was incredibly disturbed to hear the assault had taken place in his city.
"I haven't got all the information but that is very distressing to hear."
Napier councillor Michelle Pyke said she absolutely felt for the victim and hoped police would identify the suspect as soon as possible. "It's a real worry that women aren't safe in our city.
"It really is concerning."
She urged anyone who saw anything to speak up.
"I'm confident the police will piece together his identity."
Ms Pyke said she hoped that the arguments blaming the victim would not surface after the attack. "It's all about the offender."
Napier runner Annette Jackson said she usually runs along the Marine Parade beach about four times a week. The news of the assault has left her feeling angry and uneasy.
"I'm usually out running before dawn so it is quite scary to hear a woman was attacked here."
Ms Jackson said although the attack would not stop her enjoying her favourite run in the Bay, she would be more vigilant and might start her runs at sunrise for the next few weeks.
"I'll feel a lot better when he's caught. We should be allowed to run along the beach without fear.
"I don't really see any suspicious looking people hanging around when I run so I'm really hoping it's just a one-off."
-Anyone with any information can contact the Hawkes Bay CIB on 06 8310700 or anonymously through CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111.