Moses Beach - Public Access denied, then
Moses Beach at the Northeastern end
of Clifton bay is difficult to access by foot, except at low
tide during the summer months when a continuous stretch of sand links all five of Clifton's
beaches. For most of the year, and at high tide on even the calmest days of summer, access
is via the path and rocks from the end of First Beach.
Construction of the apartment block "Eventide" in the period 2003 - 2006 consolidated
three homes, and also canalised the mountain stream which flowed onto Moses Beach.
As with many of the apartment constructions, sitework entailed massive amounts of rock
and earth moving. This also resulted - whether intentionally or not - in closing the public
Whilst there is extensive legislation to protect public access and which governs building
works adjacent to the high water mark, experience at Clifton and elsewhere has shown
how hard it is to ensure that the right of public access is preserved. During construction
it became evident that granite rock and other by-product of the building process was
being allowed to submerge the rambling little path which for decades had been the means
of access to Moses beach. (note that after First beach, there are no public paths from
Victoria Road with access down to the beach. Moses beach can only be accessed via the
rock path from First Beach, or for Moses Beach residents, directly from their apartments.)
So when it became apparant that public access was being closed on account of the
building waste, I hauled out pre-building photographs, and began documenting the works
underway. Previous experience suggested it would be unlikely that the path would be
restored when the building was completed.
Indeed, at completion of building in 2006, the previous path terminated in what appeared to be
a private garden. "Landscaping" was underway. The combination of a planted area, a steep
gradient, and the placement of security guards at the seaside entrance to "Eventide" would
suggest to any casual stroller that this was private land. Indeed, I was stopped by a security
guard, when attempting to walk over the "landscaped" area. I courteously pointed out to
the guard that he had been ill-advised by his employers: the land was public, access a right.
To cut the story short, after representations to the City, and with facilitation of Lewis Rabkin
(who grew up at Moses beach, and whose family home had been integrated into Eventide), it
was arranged for the path to be re-opened. Some of the rubble was cleared, and although now
a bit intimidating with halogen lights and some ambiguously placed "private" signage, the path
is indeed open again.
What became clear to me, as I tried to match old pics with new, is just how difficult it is to
orientate when a development moves earth and granite rocks on this scale. The granite shapes
appear completely different depending on the sunlight angle and sand levels. Understandably a
challenge for an environmental officer or person unfamiliar with the terrain.
See the pics on this and the linked pages, and when next in the area, please politely assert your right
of access. Our beaches and coastal area are for all citizens, not just a few.
views from the sea 2003 - 2006
click here for view from the land - pics showing during building (Nov 2003) and after building (Feb 2006)