The beach under Cape Kidnappers will be reopened by the Hastings District Council, despite a geologist's report saying lives could be at risk.
Clifton Beach has been closed since January 23, when two Korean tourists were seriously injured during a large slip. Since then at least two more large slips have occurred at the site.
An interim geologist's report has stated that opening the beach could put lives at risk from more slips or rockfalls.
Councillors voted 7-5 at a meeting on Tuesday morning to go against a geologist's recommendation to keep the beach closed until a risk assessment was completed.
The decision will allow the beach to be reopened once signs have been put in place to help users understand the risk.
The risk assessment will then take place over the next six months. It will cost council an expected $300,000 of unbudgeted money.
The Department of Conservation (DoC) is taking a different route to council, and has decided to keep public conservation land at Cape Kidnappers closed, despite it being well away from the slip site.
Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst, who voted against the reopening said all measures possible would be put in place to ensure public safety.
"Obviously it is most important for our council to make sure we keep our community safe, that is our biggest priority here."
She said she personally felt the risk assessment should have been carried out first, prior to opening the beach.
She said her concern lay with people visiting Hawke's Bay, rather than locals who already had more of a knowledge of the area's potential risks.
Gannet Beach Adventures owner Colin Lindsay said the decision was a positive one for the people for Hawke's Bay.
He said they were now waiting for council to the finalise smaller details, before they decided when to reopen and in what form.
Lindsay said DoC's track leads from the beach to the upper gannet colony, preventing part, but not all of his tour.
"Our tag line is four million years in four hours, we'll have to change that to four million years in three hours."
They will still be access the lower colony, and the other gannet tour group, Gannet Safaris, will still be able to access the upper colony by going overland.
Geologist Matt Shore told the council before it made its decision on Tuesday that a Quantitative Risk Assessment was considered standard practice when considering loss of life.
Shore's report found there was a potential for multiple injuries or fatalities.
Councillors Jacoby Poulain, Anne Redstone, Henare O'Keefe, Wendy Schollum, Damon Harvey, Malcolm Dixon and Simon Nixon voted in favour of reopening the beach.
Along with Hazlehurst, deputy Mayor Tania Kerr and councillors Kevin Watkins, Geraldine Travers, Bayden Barber voted against.
Councillor Rod Heaps declared a conflict of interest and attended the meeting as an expert, due to his relationship with Gannet Beach Adventures. He did not vote.