Some will see the decision by Hastings District Council to reopen the beach to Cape Kidnappers as a victory for common sense.

But as the first week since it was reopened has shown, the council is now in for a very, very nervy few months. Officials, and even ratepayers themselves, should be sweating.

Clifton Beach was closed in January after two Korean tourists were seriously injured in an enormous landslide that essentially forced the pair off beach and into the ocean.


Rocks continued to pour down on them, fracturing bones so badly they've taken months to heal, if at all.

It was so big there was no hope of the two of them running to one side or the other. They were sitting ducks.

One of the tourists was initially in a critical condition. We were mighty close to losing someone on that sunny summer day.

The council and DoC and everyone involved with the beach made the decision to close it. Fair enough.

We were told a risk assessment would take at least six months because of just how enormous those cliffs are, and just how challenging it is. Again, fair enough.

But in March the council decided 8-6, against legal advice, to reopen the beach while doing the risk assessment.

The beach is now open. It could turn out to be a big mistake.

Clifton Beach is a legal road, and it's unprecedented and impractical to keep it closed forever.


But to not at least wait for the risk assessment means there is now legal risk for Hastings District Council.

If rocks come down again, and if those rocks injure or kill someone, the council could be liable; just how much, is hard to say.

DoC hasn't opened its stretch of the walk, at the end of the beach towards the gannet colony, for this reason.

Not only are people dicing with death every time they walk past those cliffs for the next few months, the council is dicing with the potential for one heck of a public inquisition.

Things at the Cape right now are a house of cards.

Rocks are still falling from big heights in small amounts – as they always do.

One of the first people through decided to turn around because he saw a small slip come down and some fresh slips sitting ahead. Everyone is on edge.

For now, at least the next few months, it's best to just stay away.

If you're not convinced it's for your own safety, then stay away for the future ratepayers of the region.