Ships could continue to be turned away from Napier Port for the next few days as an "unprecendented" swell hammers Hawke's Bay.

Clifton Beach was closed by Hastings District Council on Wednesday and Napier City Council closed the Marine Parade viewing platform after tourists were drenched by a heaving sea on Wednesday morning.

MetService meteorologist Tui McInnes said a slow building pressure system out to the east of Hawke's Bay had ramped up the seas, causing swells of close to 4m.

McInnes said the 4m swells had the potential to "cause a bit of havoc on the coast" as it could possibly continue until Saturday morning.

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"The main thing that is causing the big waves is the easterly winds that are occur.

"With a large space and a slow build-up it leaves time for some quite nice swells to develop," McInnes said.

Spectators get a bit of a taste of the sea on the Napier viewing platform. Photo / Paul Taylor
Spectators get a bit of a taste of the sea on the Napier viewing platform. Photo / Paul Taylor

Napier Port general manager of container operations Warren Young said the large swells meant the passage of vessels into the port was not safe, potentially for the next three days.

"We have informed our customers that we are not currently allowing any vessel to enter the port until the conditions subside.

"We are monitoring the situation on a continuous basis but, based on current forecasts, we expect these conditions to continue until Saturday morning."

But he says that although they do have to close the port a few times in the year this delay is something they didn't really expect to have to close for this long.

"We currently have three log vessels at anchor. We only close the port a few times a year due to swell but it's unprecedented that we need to close for this length of time.

"Our landside operations are not affected by the weather, so trucks are still able to drop off or pick up cargo."

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Due to the heavy swells hitting the Clifton beach area around Clifton Motor Camp Hastings District Council has advised people to stay away and had closed the slip-prone beach.

The big swells didn't deter spectators from the viewing platform. Photo / Paul Taylor
The big swells didn't deter spectators from the viewing platform. Photo / Paul Taylor

"In the interest of public safety we strongly urge people to stay away from the boat ramp, revetment wall and surrounding areas," council spokesperson said.

"Forecasts indicate these swells are expected to ease below warning criteria by Friday."

Napier City Council temporarily closed the viewing platform on Wednesday, saying it would review it at the next high tide, roughly 11pm on Wednesday.

It would be reopened as soon as possible, the council said.

Some people took advantage of a hairy experience on the platform before it closed with some getting wetter than others.

Visitors from Auckland, Sandy Robertson and Lynette Quin, said it was a thrill standing on it about midday watching the impressive white water around them.

"We just assumed it was like this all the time," Robertson said, "It just gives you such an adrenaline rush standing here watching the waves as they come in."

The pair counted themselves lucky as they only received a minor dampening by sea spray.

Others were not so lucky according to a woman walking her dogs on the beach.

Swells of up to 4m hampered the coastline on Wednesday. Photo / Paul Taylor
Swells of up to 4m hampered the coastline on Wednesday. Photo / Paul Taylor

"I was walking my dogs earlier and I watched a bunch of people duck down as this huge wave struck the platform, they would have got saturated," she laughed.

Also present on the viewing platform was Napier resident Chris Gouverneur, who used to own a surf rescue boat when previously living in Dunedin.

Watching the waves with a smile on his face, the rolling seas gave him a wave of nostalgia.

"Watching these waves gives you a real adrenaline rush," he said, "Waves like this used to be a bit of a playground for us divers, being in them was both terrifying and exciting. I'll tell ya people had to hang on pretty tight in the boat."