The beachfront of the Clifton Beach Reserve Motor Camp is eroding at a rate much quicker than expected, with damage in the last week eating away up to four metres of land in some areas.
A tree has been uprooted, and parts of an asphalt road left scattered along the beach after high seas in the last week pounded the edge of the coastal motor camp.
Clifton is just one of a number of areas along the Hawke's Bay coastline that suffer from erosion, with Haumoana, Westshore and Blackhead in similar situations.
Clifton Reserve Society co-chairperson Dionne Thomas said the only realistic option remaining for the campsite was managed retreat, because applying for resource consents and then building a structure to protect the coastline was far too costly for the board.
"We've lost access before, but in terms of actually losing the road in front of where the campervans are, that's very significant.
"Clifton has been a camping icon for a huge number of years and there are families out there, like my own, that have camped out there for 30, 40, 50 years. To lose that camping icon is really devastating."
Underground pipes previously only just protruding onto the beach were now exposed by an additional four metres, such was the extent of the recent land loss.
Clifton Beach Reserve Motor Camp assistant manager Jim Isaacson felt the camp's role in Hawke's Bay tourism should be taken into account when considering its future.
"We have a number of overseas people coming here. They just cannot believe they can stay in a camping ground so close to the beach, and they go to the gannets, which is a very important piece of tourism for Hawke's Bay. These are the things that need to be taken into consideration."
The damage in the last week was the worst he had seen at the site, despite the loss of an access road only just last year.
A decision was made two years ago that there would be managed retreat, but Hastings District Council mayor Lawrence Yule said that the rate of erosion was occurring much faster than they had expected.
He would speak to the regional council about the latest damage, but did not want to raise people's hopes too high.
"It's far more substantial erosion than has been there before," he said. "The decision was made two years ago to effectively make a managed retreat. Hopefully by next week I'll have a bit more of an idea with the regional council but I don't want to give anyone false hope."
One problem that needed to be discussed was access to the Clifton boat ramp, which he said was the only ramp south of Napier, as well as options regarding a possible relocation of the camp ground.
"Effectively in a very short space of time there will be no access to that boat ramp if the current rate of erosion continues."