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Beware the beauty trap – don’t get caught at the Cape

Hawke’s Bay Police have noticed more emergency calls for assistance by walkers and hikers becoming stranded on the track from Clifton Motor Camp out to the Gannet Colony at Cape Kidnappers.

“While this is an exceptional walk for locals and visitors to the area, people need to be aware of the risks associated with it,” says the head of Hawke’s Bay Police Search & Rescue, Detective Senior Sergeant Marty James.

The walk covers an approximate 19 kilometre return hike along mainly beach access with a short steep climb up to the gannet colony itself on the plateau.

Due to the coastal conditions including steep high unstable cliffs on one side and the ocean on the other, walkers can face some unexpected obstacles and experiences along this track.

“Land slips, slippery rock formations, and the continually shifting tidal and swell conditions can cause people to get caught out and stranded if they have not prepared properly before embarking on the journey.

There is also very limited and intermittent cell phone coverage in this area which can cause problems when requesting assistance,” says Marty James.

Advice to return safely

Hawke’s Bay Police ask that hikers in this area ensure they are properly equipped with appropriate footwear, clothing, any medications, food and water, etc.

However, the main problems arise from people getting trapped out on the trail by the incoming tide or landslides which cut off their intended path.

Hikers need to know that this walk will take about five hours (return) to do, so appropriate planning around the tides needs to be done and considered before embarking on the journey.

It is recommended that any person considering this walk should not leave the Clifton Campground area after mid-tide (falling) and anyone who has reached the colony should have left that area to return to Clifton within one hour after low tide at the latest.

People can check the tide times, swell conditions and weather regularly here.

The Hawke’s Bay Search & Rescue squad spends time and commits resources to attending incidents in this area - many of which could have been avoided had people taken some simple precautions before their journey.

Local Police will be working alongside other agencies and businesses in an effort to reduce the risk to members of the public and calls for service to the area.


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