Veteran beach track user fears for safety

Ex-Merchant Navy Captain Malcolm Pearson, 89, has swum at Paradise Beach for 30 years. However,...
Ex-Merchant Navy Captain Malcolm Pearson, 89, has swum at Paradise Beach for 30 years. However, the track he uses to get to the shore has become unsafe and he fears he may slip. PHOTO: GEOFF SLOAN
When Malcolm Pearson fancies a swim, he heads to Paradise Beach.

The 89-year-old ex-merchant navy captain has been utilising the coastal area since he moved to Charteris Bay with his wife, Dawn, 30 years ago.

But for the past few years, problems with accessibility have been putting his safety at risk.

The track was damaged in the February 22, 2011, earthquake, but has got worse since.

The current stairway is narrow, steep and subject to heavy stormwater run-off in significant weather events.

Mr Pearson said there was once a handrail he could use to get up and down the staircase, but now he relies on tree branches to steady himself.

“I’ve got to hold onto twigs to get up – I could have a slip,” he said.

“When you get near the top, there’s a big step and there’s nothing to hold onto to find your way up there.

“It’s a lovely beach for families to use, but they could improve access a lot more.”

He said it would be nice if the access had been improved before November, in case he wanted to swim on his 90th birthday.

The path is set to be upgraded as part of the city council’s Head to Head Walkway plan.

A small section from Marine Drive at Paradise Beach to the Charteris Bay Yacht Club was signed off by the Banks Peninsula Community Board in August. However, city council acting head of parks Wolfgang Bopp said staff are unable to determine a completion date at this stage.

“Design resource has yet to be allocated, and operational staff will work with neighbouring property owners regarding design details,” he said.

“Construction will begin once the design has been finalised after consultation with adjacent landowners.”

In the meantime, Charteris Bay Residents’ Association secretary Bill Studholme said the problem is getting “worse and worse.

“It’s bloody dangerous. I’m concerned about mothers and their children.

“Let’s be realistic, it’s going to be over 10 years before the walkway is finished. The interim arrangement should be to tidy up what we’ve got.”

Mr Studholme said there is also a lack of parking which he hopes to raise with the city council.

•HAVE YOUR SAY: Are you concerned about the unsafe access to Paradise Beach or any other walkways?Email your views to




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