Two Korean tourists are in hospital after a rockfall came down with so much force that it pushed them into the water.

Karen Gabriel captured the first few seconds of the cliff crumbling at Cape Kidnappers at about 2.30pm.

"We were just running towards it because I knew there was someone trapped." She says the man and woman were not part of their Gannet Beach Adventures tour, but had been walking ahead.

"If we had left ten minutes earlier we would have been involved," daughter, Mischa Gabriel says.


Gabriel said their guide had ran ahead and understood the woman, in her 20s had a broken tibia, while the man, also in his 20s had a broken leg.

Joseph Lee and Sookhee Park, originally from Korea, were part of the tour and were tasked with helping translate for the couple.

Lee says the couple had been in the country for the past year on a working holiday visa and were due to leave the country in a week.

"They were walking past the point and the rock was coming down, so they escaped to the sea but the rock was faster than them and hit them."

Lee says they tried to comfort the pair. "They were frightened and scared". He recalls the woman saying she was "thankful to be alive".

Police, four fire trucks, a St John ambulance and a rescue helicopter were called to assist at the scene to gain off Clifton Rd about 2.30pm.

Both of the injured were transported to Hawke's Bay Hospital, one by rescue helicopter and the lesser injured of the two by ambulance.

A spokesperson for Hawke's Bay Hospital said as of 6pm night, one woman in her 20s was in a critical condition, and one man in his 20s was in a stable condition.


An eyewitness told Hawke's Bay Today the pair were pushed out into the sea by the slip where they were helped by a boatie and members of the tour group.

Sheree Anderton, who was visiting from Auckland with son Jayden Sumner, 11, and husband Damion Sumner said the cliff came down in two parts.

The first part had come down earlier, Anderton said it was possibly the night before, as the tide had already washed over it.

Graphic / Supplied
Graphic / Supplied

The group of roughly 140 people on a tour with Cape Kidnappers Gannet Tours was given the option to keep going on foot, as the tractor could not get past the slip, or turn around and go back.

"We choose to turn around and go back on the tractor, and the other group [roughly 70 people] carried on.

"They would have seen that second part coming down."

She said when they were driving back and saw the emergency services towards the Cape, the first thing she thought was that more of the cliff had come down.

"I just had that gut feeling."

Cape Kidnappers is a popular walking spot for tourists. Photo / Rachel Wise
Cape Kidnappers is a popular walking spot for tourists. Photo / Rachel Wise

Gannet Beach Adventures owner-operator Colin Lindsay said he was thankful for the community and emergency service response.

They had 68 passengers on-board the tour today - all of whom made it back safetly.
However, he had been worried about walkers' safety for some time.

"I had a meeting organised [yesterday] afternoon with a Department of Conservation representative to air my concerns about the walker safety. This has been a big fear of ours and now it has been realised. We don't feel that we've been listened to."

He said their main concern was about walkers' not realising the risks involved. "99.9 per cent of the time, they make it safely there and back."