A Department of Conservation assessment labelled Cape Kidnappers as being at an "unacceptable risk" of rock fall just a day before the launch of a multi-million dollar campaign promoting it as a Great Walk.

The report was written in September 2017, nearly 17 months prior to the Cape's January slip, which saw two South Korean tourists swept out to sea and seriously injured.

DOC's report highlighted the Cape as an "unacceptable risk" in both its 2017 and 2009 reports.

It also stated that the cliff face at the Cape was at risk of a landslide "between the next 1- 5 years".


The outcomes of the report led to a "geological hazard assessment" being carried out by Opus.

DOC report highlighted Cape Kidnappers as an
DOC report highlighted Cape Kidnappers as an "unacceptable risk" of rock fall more then a decade before its slip. Photo / Supplied

Engineering firm Opus was assigned to assess the area, but only DOC's assets including the cliff top track, toilets and lookout.

The Opus report, published in November 2017, advised relocating the track and DOC facilities due to erosion issues along the cliff tops and because the current facilities may not cope with the predicted increase in visitor numbers.

Opus's report also stated that it was, "primarily on a desktop study and site walkover. No sub-surface testing was conducted".

DOC estimated almost 25,000 people a year visited Cape Kidnappers and, of those, 3750 opted to walk along the beach to see the gannet colony.

In a statement from Director of Heritage and Visitors for DOC Steve Taylor said risks were always present in an environment like Cape Kidnappers.

"Natural hazards are an inherent part of nature and many of the most interesting landscapes and features that people are drawn to are the result of natural hazards," Taylor said.

"While New Zealand is a geologically dynamic environment and DOC can never fully eliminate all hazards in the outdoors, managing risks to our visitors is a critical part of the department's work, including assessing, prioritising and treating significant hazards that could impact visitors."

Cape Kidnappers cliff collapse leaves tourist critically hurt: 'This has been a big fear of ours'.

Taylor said an immediate investigation had been put in place to analyse the department's processes after the slip.

"Immediately after the incident we initiated an internal investigation to examine our processes, identify underlying causes and inform future work," Taylor said.

"We won't be in a position to comment further until this investigation is complete."

An interim geologist's report into the landslide will be presented to Hastings District Council at a meeting on March 5.

Geological investigations have been ongoing since the first landslide on January 23, which was followed by a second significant landslide at the same location on February 2 and another on February 7.

Cape Kidnappers beach remains closed.