Hibiscus Coast cliffs are at risk of collapses, councillor warns beach users

Councillor John Watson is warning beachgoers rain saturated cliffs could drop further rocks and trees, like these ...
Jay Boreham

Councillor John Watson is warning beachgoers rain saturated cliffs could drop further rocks and trees, like these pohutukawa, on to Hibiscus Coast beaches.

Heavy rains have brought pohutukawa trees and large chunks of rock crashing on to beaches on the Hibiscus Coast and there could be more to come, councillor John Watson is warning beachgoers.

Bad weather in the second week of April has seen slips along the Whangaparaoa Peninsula from Army Bay to Tindalls Bay and also at Red Beach.

They range from small piles of dirt to massive rocks and trees. 

Water drips from the cliff at another fall further along the beach.
Jay Boreham

Water drips from the cliff at another fall further along the beach.

Water glistening on cliff faces between Army Bay and Coal Mine Bay shows they are still saturated, and further falls could be expected, Watson said.

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"In several of these locations it's big chunks of the cliff face that's ready to give way," he said. 

Another tree that fell from the cliff top at Army Bay.
Jay Boreham

Another tree that fell from the cliff top at Army Bay.

Watson has been walking the stretch of coastline for the two decades he has lived in Army Bay, and said the current situation "gives me the creeps as I walk along".

"If anyone was underneath them they would just get killed - they'd be crushed," he said.

A woman walking the stretch of coastline on Wednesday, who only wished to be known as Anne, she she didn't remember the three large pohutukawas had been was forced to weave through being on the beach beneath the cliffs the last time she walked past.

"I was a little bit anxious walking beneath it," she said.

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Fellow walkers Ashleigh Giesler and Megan Jones said the tree and rockfalls appeared to be general erosion.

"But it is scary walking under it," Jones said.

Watson said there were a few council signs warning of rockfalls in the area but there were too many entry points to capture all users.

"I don't like the idea of people being blissfully unaware and walking around - especially with the school holidays.

"Local people tend to be aware of the dangers, but certainly not all of them, and newcomers to the area or visitors are often blissfully ignorant.

"On nice days you get people setting up picnics right under the cliffs, totally oblivious to the potential dangers above them."

Watson said the issue could affect other Auckland areas.

The Hibiscus and Bays Local Board Hazard report notes prolonged rainfall, resulting in the saturation of cliffs, can act as a trigger in cliffs from Campbells Bay to Long bay and around the Whangaparaoa Peninsula.

The steep coastal cliffs in this area are comprised of soft, weak rocks which make them vulnerable to failure.  The report noted in 2011, a woman was killed by a rockfall at Rothesay Bay while out walking.

 - Stuff

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