Makara beach track becoming too dangerous as erosion eats away at it
Makara residents are calling for urgent action to fix part of a popular beach track before someone is seriously hurt.
The first 500 metres of the Makara Walkway were severely damaged in the storm the day after the Kaikoura earthquake, and Makara/Ohariu Community Board chairwoman Christine Grace said it has only got worse with recent cyclone-related storm surges.
She had been in talks with the Department of Conservation (DOC) in recent weeks, hoping to get some action on the increasingly dangerous section of track.
"I told them 'please don't shut the track, we want it repaired' but they told me there's just no funding."
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Community ranger Lee Barry said DOC staff had inspected the track multiple times, installing signs and warning tape to advise walkers to take care.
In response to public concerns, rangers re-inspected the track earlier this month to ensure it was safe and had appropriate signage.
"The track, as it is, meets the requirements of the New Zealand track standard and there is signage warning the public of its condition," Barry said.
However, one resident, fed up with the lack of official action, has installed a safety rope around the most treacherous and narrow part of the track.
"It was done by an elderly man to serve as a handrail of sorts," Grace said.
Fellow community board member and deputy chairman John Apanowicz said the group had been contacted by several track users, expressing their concerns about the track and the potential for an accident.
"From our perspective, we definitely see it as an issue. It is natural erosion but that track has been in operation going back to WWII so we want it fixed."
He noted that the majority of the track had little cellphone coverage, which had the potential to make a bad situation worse.
"If someone fell or had an accident, you would have to get someone to run to the houses and use a landline.
"It really is an accident waiting to happen."
Both Apanowicz and Grace have a long association with the area and wanted to see the popular track maintained and fixed as soon as possible.
"I'm not an engineer so I don't know exactly how they could do it but I would like to see the track further benched - so basically moved higher up the cliff face," Grace said.
"They could also put in big rocks or something to stop the sea from washing away the track even further."
For now, DOC said anyone with concerns about the safety of the track, were advised to walk along the beach to avoid the narrow section.
"We are currently investigating long-term options and our operations manager is visiting the site with an engineer," Barry said.
"Given the ongoing coastal erosion, it is possible that there will not be an easy fix for this section."