Rockslide threat a danger to Kaikoura YHA staff and guests

Kaikoura Maui YHA will close its doors on May 2.
EMMA DANGERFIELD/FAIRFAX NZ

Kaikoura Maui YHA will close its doors on May 2.

The threat of falling rocks from a cliff behind a Kaikoura hostel has forced its owners to close the business after more than 50 years.

YHA New Zealand chief executive Mark Wells said commissioned engineering reports established the hostel on Kaikoura's Esplanade was at risk from the cliff face behind it.

While the likelihood of a rockslide was not high, any such event was likely to cause damage to the hostel and could ultimately present a danger to YHA staff and guests, Wells said.

A safety fence had been erected behind the hostel to protect it and guests from isolated small rock falls, but the cost of further mitigation was significant and had influenced the closure decision, which affected three staff members, he said.

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"By nature, YHA has a low appetite for risk and takes the safety of guests and staff alike very seriously.

"On that basis, and having explored the options for and economics of mitigation of the identified situation, the unfortunate conclusion is that we should close.  

"We do so in the knowledge that this is a situation which other operators may feel is acceptable and not requiring mitigation actions.

"It has been an extremely difficult decision given YHA Kaikoura's long history in this popular tourism town, and we will be extremely sad to close the doors, but the costs of mitigation are simply too high to be commercially viable."

YHA Kaikoura will close permanently on May 2, and YHA New Zealand will be seeking alternative representation in the township to ensure its long-standing brand presence in Kaikoura is maintained. 

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Kaikoura Mayor Winston Gray said the news was disappointing but he was pleased to hear this was not signalling the end of the YHA in Kaikoura.

"It's a great site and it's been a fantastic business."

The University of Canterbury research station, next door to the YHA, was shut suddenly because of rockfall risk at the start of the month.

Results from a geotechnical investigation of the cliff behind the station prompted its temporary closure. 

 - Kaikoura Star

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