A massive tree split in two and crashed to the ground at Waikanae Beach on Monday - a day after the park was packed with families.
Manager of The Front Room restaurant, Hillary Bowen, said her staff heard a large crack across Tutere St at the Waimeha Domain.
"A couple of the girls thought that the roof was caving in.
"I thought someone had hit a road sign or something with the sound of the cracking," she said.
"Then we went outside and saw the tree had split and toppled down both sides, perfectly down the middle."
Ms Bowen said it was fortunate that because of the rain no-one was using the park at the time.
She said it had been packed with families the day before.
"If it had fallen on a person, they would be gone. We think it was probably the heavy rain which caused it to come down.
"We've all parked our cars on the other side of the road today [Tuesday]. We're not taking any risks with the other trees."
Kapiti Coast District Council leisure and open space asset manager Lex Bartlett said council crews had examined the tree.
"In the centre there was quite a lot of dry rot, right in the middle of it. That's obviously weakened it."
Mr Bartlett said as a result of the split, crews have looked at other trees in the area - in particular the macrocarpas.
"One of the other ones close by, we'll do some remedial trimming on it."
The council has been progressively trimming trees in the area, that includes a playground, to improve lighting, he said.
Mr Bartlett said as part of the process, crews had been engaged to look at thinning other trees in the park.
Only dead branches would be removed from the beachfront row which prevented sand blowing through, he said.
Mr Bartlett said the split macrocarpa was likely at least 20 to 30 years old.
- Kapiti Observer
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