Punakaiki Beach Camp may not last winter

By Colin Williscroft -
Punakaiki rocks on the West Coast of the South Island. Photo / File
Punakaiki rocks on the West Coast of the South Island. Photo / File

The lessee of Punakaiki Beach Camp is worried the camp may not last the winter, as more rough seas batter the West Coast.

Craig Findlay says sea erosion caused by the prevailing westerly conditions -- and another period of heavy seas - have made further inroads into the area immediately in front of the camp's wetland.

"The problem is now being exaacerbated by the fact that the southern extent of the foreshore protrudes beyond the natural erosion line," Mr Findlay said.

"This has created a shoulder for the sea to bounce off, thus creating an eddy-type situation which has the potential to remove large quantities of sand at a far greater rate than the current level of retreat."

Mr Findlay said because the wetland acted as the "final polishing" stage for the camp's sewage "if that goes, we can't run the camp".

Seas during the past week have removed at least another half metre of sand, Mr Findlay said.

"It's got to the stage that we have the potential that one big event could bring an almighty thump and that would be it, we'd have to close.

"It wouldn't surprise me if it happened this winter."

Further heavy seas forecast for the end of the week have compounded Mr Findlay's concerns.

He did not have any quick answers, other than to reinforce his earlier comments that time is of the essence if the camp is to be saved.

Despite raising the need to extend the seawall near the camp last November, "the unfortunate thing is, best case scenario we might get a wall a year later".

"It just takes so long," he said.

"The camp is managed and run by our family and the ongoing stress of the issues surrounding the seawall extension is taking its toll."

The huge seas during the past

week have also taken their toll on Hokitika, particularly around the tiphead near the mouth of the Hokitika River.

Sunset Point remains closed, Westland District Council group manager district assets Vivek Goel, said today.

"It's still closed and is likely to remain like that for the foreseeable future. The situation there is pretty bad."

There was no work planned for the area in the near future, he said.

- Greymouth Star

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