The walking trail commonly known as ‘The Abseil Track’ will soon be closed permanently, for safety reasons.
In May of this year, Te Mata Park Trust, in conjunction with Hastings District Council, contracted national outdoor safety company, Peak Safety & Emergency Management, to undertake a comprehensive Safety Review of the Te Mata Park.
“They assessed the overall hazards and risk mitigation strategies across the Park,” comments Mike Devonshire, Chairman of Te Mata Park Trust. “Several recommendations emerged as a result of this detailed review.”
The ‘Abseil Track’ is a short stretch of walking trail that is located near the saddle parking area, above a 15 metre cliff, used by abseilers.
“The Peak Safety audit recommended mitigating the safety risks on the Abseil Track, and made several suggestions in this regard,” adds Mr Devonshire.
“The Trust have been concerned for some time about the safety of walkers above the abseiling cliff. The cliff is dangerous in part because it is concealed by long grass, and the track is also narrow in places. The abseil anchors are also potential tripping hazards.”
The Trust also voiced concerns about the proximity to the road. “As it is easily accessible by park users, the potential for an accident is exacerbated, in particular children and those less fit, who can easily walk there from their car,” says Mr. Devonshire.
Consideration was also given to building a barrier fence. However, due to the length of the cliff, the fence would need to be 75 metres long, which would make a very visual addition to the landscape and be very expensive. “There are stringent requirements for such a fence and for many park users, building a long safety fence would detract from the appearance of the park,” comments Mr. Devonshire.
As a result of the Peak Safety Review and considerable discussion within the Trust Board, it has been decided to close this short part of the track with robust, weather proof, gates at each end. Signage will clearly state that the track is only available for abseilers.
“Alternative routes are available,” adds Mr. Devonshire. “There are tracks nearby that are also enjoyable for walking. Walkers will be diverted over the top of the knoll above the abseil track.”
The Trust asks park users to please respect the closure of the Abseil Track, and also asks for patience as safety changes are implemented over the next month.