The moment a collapsing cliff barrelled into two tourists at Cape Kidnappers on Wednesday afternoon, Colin Lindsay's fear had been realised.

While slips are a common occurrence in that area, he believes not enough has been done to ensure the public know the risks involved.

The Gannet Beach Adventures owner-operator says he's voiced his concerns numerous times over the past year and a half.

It was supposed to culminate in a meeting with a Department of Conservation representative that same day, where he would "air concerns" about the walker safety.


"99.9 per cent of the time, they make it safely there and back, but we don't feel that we've been listened to. This has been a big fear of ours and now it has been realised."

On Thursday, the beach and access area to Cape Kidnappers was closed to the public and will remain so until a "robust assessment of the area is carried out, and it is deemed safe to reopen," DOC said.

It was working closely with the Hastings District Council, NZ Police and the Hawke's Bay Regional Council.

A Hastings District Council spokeswoman said agencies were urgently getting geotechnical experts from around the country who can access the area in order to help it decide what to do next.

DOC said its primary concern was for public safety on the walk. However, the land is not managed by them, and is a public section of beach, and legally a public road.

"DOC does what it can to minimise risks to public enjoying New Zealand's wild and wonderful places ... Weather events in the last few days, high winds and rain, demonstrate how our wild places, riversides and coastlines are not without risk."

It said it would review its signage and information to ensure it provides the public with the best possible information to make good decisions before embarking on the day hike.

Currently signage at the Clifton entrance to the beach warns of falling rock and not to rest below the cliffs.

Signage at the Clifton entrance to the beach warns of falling rock and not to rest below the cliffs. Photo / Supplied.
Signage at the Clifton entrance to the beach warns of falling rock and not to rest below the cliffs. Photo / Supplied.

Lindsay believes a "50mm by 150mm sign" is not enough.

A smaller rock fall came down at the same site the day earlier. On Wednesday the tractor towing the trailer carrying 47 people stopped at the site and the guide walked clients over the smaller rock fall.

When the large fall came down, two people walking nearby were hit with such force that they were pushed into the water.

Lindsay says his business operates by a lot of rules and regulations.

"It is all about operating in a safe manner, and that's what we did. The problem was there were two people walking up there with no knowledge of the risk."

The HDC spokeswoman said no one advised them of a slip on Tuesday and she was "not aware of any other slips being reported".

She said while there is no legislative requirement for people to report slips, they "encourage people to do so if possible".

There remain options to bus and tractor to see the popular gannet colony. The bus ride avoids the beach completely.

"People walk, mountain bike, motorbike, 4WD and tractor ride along the beach daily and always have done. It is important people and families have the opportunity to explore areas of Aotearoa's natural heritage at no cost," DOC said.

Lindsay does not know when they will be allowed to operate again. "We just have to sit tight and wait until we get information."

He said it is a busy time of the year, and they will lose income. However, he is unsure about the long-term impact.