Fears for tourists using beach track

A lack of online warnings about the dangers of the Tunnel Beach track may put tourists at risk, a Dunedin resident says.

On July 5, Corstorphine resident Lynley Hood was catching a bus home.

The weather was poor with icy wind and rain.

Two young Asian women got on the bus and Dr Hood overheard them say they wanted to go to Tunnel Beach.

''They were dressed lightly for Dunedin ... jeans, sneakers and tops comprising a couple of layers of cotton and synthetic,'' Dr Hood said.

She told the women she was concerned about them going to Tunnel Beach on such a bad day.

At first they just laughed, but their faces fell when Dr Hood warned them about the dangers of hypothermia and how steep the track was.

Dr Hood suggested the women should stay on the bus and go to Tunnel Beach on a day with better weather. She got off the bus before the girls and did not see whether they followed her advice.

When Dr Hood got home, she checked the online information on Tunnel Beach, looking at six sites, including the Department of Conservation (Doc) site.

Of these, only one site - Insidersdunedin.co.nz - had any warning, telling visitors to ''be careful'' around the cliffs.

Wikipedia and a travel blog, Aliadventures.com, mentioned the track was steep and could be slippery in wet weather, she said.

Doc senior ranger Marcus Simons said the Doc site did not mention any hazards on the track other than the need to take note of the weather, which was standard advice for Otago.

However, the track had been assessed under the visitor risk assessment system and was up to national safety standards, he said. There were handrails and barriers to keep users safe.

Mr Simons was not aware of any accidents on the track.

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